After a decisive 6-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night, the Blackhawks look to get back on track as they travel to the Bell Centre in Montreal to face the Canadiens on Thursday evening.
While the Blackhawks have not yet been able to right the ship and remain under the .500 mark on the season (9-14-2), the Canadiens — five months removed from a Stanley Cup Final appearance — have dug themselves a hole, and currently own a dreadful 6-18-3 record.
Whats the deal, Habs?
The injury bug has bitten Montreal big time, as they currently have a whopping 10 players out (8 with injury, 2 due to COVID-19). Although the majority of this list is made up of important players, the one that stands out the most is all-star netminder Carey Price, who's out for the season, and his absence is definitely showing as the Canadiens are currently 28th in goals against at 3.56 per game. This could be a get-right game for the Blackhawks offense, which is ranked 30th in the league, scoring 2.13 goals per game.
Other notable injuries for the Habs include team captain Shea Weber and veteran forward Tyler Toffoli. Both are big names who have left holes in the Habs lineup that have yet to be filled. These injuries, as well as the offseason loss of center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the Hurricanes via offer sheet, leave a lot to be desired in all three zones.
The Blackhawks have an opportunity to grab two points on the road against a struggling and depleted Montreal squad, although Chicago has its own wrongs to right in order to come away with a win.
The Hawks lineup remains largely healthy, although Jujhar Khaira was being placed on injured reserve after taking a nasty hit from New York’s Jacob Trouba and leaving Tuesday’s game on a stretcher. The Hawks have said that Khaira is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery. Both Connor Murphy and Jake McCabe will return to the Blackhawks lineup while Caleb Jones is a game time decision.
McCabe and Murphy are in tonight, Caleb Jones a game-time decision.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) December 9, 2021
Strome scratched tonight, King says. Kurashev takes his place.
It’s no secret that the Hawks are in dire need of offense, as they are 30th in goals scored, averaging a measly 2.13 goals per game. In an attempt to jolt the Hawks offense, Derek King has re-inserted Philipp Kurashev into the lineup, however, it comes at the cost of Dylan Strome, who will be a healthy scratch against the Canadiens. The Blackhawks need to get it together, both at even-strength and on the power play. If they’re able to put something together, they could inch their way closer to .500 by Christmas.
Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start in net against the Canadiens, going for his 500th career win in his home province of Quebec. Fleury would be only the third goalie to accomplish this feat, joining elite company in Hall of Famers Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy (that’s a lot of Stanley Cup rings ... 10 to be exact).
I don’t normally get excited about individual milestones but I think I can speak for all Hawks fans, as well as hockey fans around the globe when I say that Fleury is a gift none of us deserve. He is an absolute joy to watch and if for nothing else, the Hawks need to go get this win for Flower.
Let’s see it Hawks: Fleury 500.
Tale of the Tape
Blackhawks — Statistic — Canadiens
46.38% (27th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 48.14% (22nd)
43.72% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 46.13% (28th)
2.13 (30th) — Goals per game —2.26 (29th)
3.13 (23rd) — Goals against per game — 3.56 (28th)
48.3% (23rd) — Faceoffs — 48.4% (23rd)
17.8% (19th) — Power play — 13.4% (31st)
83.8% (9th) — Penalty kill — 72.3% (29th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
Hagel — Toews — Kane
DeBrincat — Dach — Kurashev
Kubalik — Borgstrom — R. Johnson
Carpenter — Slavin — Hardman (?)
de Haan — S. Jones
McCabe — Murphy
Stillman (?) — Gustafsson (?)
Hoffman — Suzuki — Drouin
Lehkonen — Poehling — Evans
Perreault — Dauphin — Caufield
Pezzetta — Paquette — Ylonen
Chiarot — Savard
Romanov — Wideman
Kulak — Clague
How to watch
When: 6 p.m. CT
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
TV: NBC Sports Chicago