As a playoff odds to continue to dwindle for the Blackhawks, they enter the tail-end of a two-game set in Detroit on Saturday night with a win essentially required if Stanley Cup Playoff aspirations are going to remain a reality at 1901 W. Madison.
That necessity was triggered by a 4-1 loss on Thursday night in a game which the Blackhawks coach and players maintained that they were just unlucky, although the scoreboard cared not for that assertion. Detroit outscored and outshot Chicago, while the power play that has carried the Blackhawks for much of the season went 0-for-3, failing to convert on a pair of unnecessary too many men penalties taken by Detroit.
The win was Detroit’s third in a row, moving the Red Wings to 6-3-2 in their last 11 as the team continues applying more coats of lipstick to this pig of a season. Make no mistake about it: this is another bad Detroit team, with only 38 points tallied through 45 games. Even if it’s playing better of late, Chicago has the talent to dispatch of this opponent without requiring the most exhaustive effort — if the Blackhawks play well, that is.
And that hasn’t been the case lately, as the malaise that hit this team in March when the strength of schedule ticked up several notches is now dragging into April. It’s spread around to various parts of the team over the last month and now appears to be afflicting Patrick Kane, who has just one goal in his last 10 games. He does have seven assists in that timeframe, but 8 points in 10 games is shy of the level we’ve come to expect from Kane and almost certainly below his own expectations. Detroit is the perfect opponent for a get-right game for No. 88.
In net, Malcolm Subban will start for the first time since backstopping a 3-2 loss to Nashville on March 28. Subban has been just as up-and-down as the rest of his teammates this season and is 1-1 against the Red Wings in 2021. Kevin Lankinen will not even be in uniform for this one, with Collin Delia (remember him?) taking the backup role. Apparently this has been The Plan™ for a while, considering how crucial the three games against Nashville next week will be.
Malcolm Subban starting tonight for the Blackhawks. Delia backing up so Lankinen can have a day off, Colliton said.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 17, 2021
"That's been the plan for 10 days."
Colliton not disclosing the rest of the lineup, though.
Regardless of what else Colliton elects do with the roster, the end result has to be two points on Saturday night. Even if the Red Wings have been playing better of late, the Blackhawks must take advantage of facing the worst team in the Central Division while the aforementioned Predators are facing one of its best in the Hurricanes. A win tonight and a Blackhawks loss makes it a two-point gap between the two teams, with Chicago owning a game in hand. It could effectively level the score between the two teams. Should Chicago lose and Nashville win, the three games next week could transition into irrelevant.
The latter seems like no fun. Let’s do the former instead.
Let’s Go Hawks!
Blackhawks — Statistic — Red Wings
45.81% (30th) — Corsi For — 46.15% (27th)
46.93% (27th) — Expected goals for — 46.15% (30th)
2.79 (17th) — Goals per game — 2.23 (31st)
3.09 (21st) — Goals against per game — 3.16 (24th)
46.9% (27th) — Faceoffs — 49.9% (16th)
24.6% (6th) — Power play — 12.0% (30th)
73.3% (29th) — Penalty kill — 76.2% (26th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
DeBrincat — Dach — Kane
Hagel — Suter — Strome
Kubalik — Kurashev — Hinostroza
Connolly — Kampf — Carpenter
Stillman — Murphy
Keith — Kalynuk
Zadorov — Mitchell
TBD — Larkin — Zadina
Vrana — Rasmussen — Filppula
Panik — Namestnikov — Gagner
Helm — Glendening — Erne
Cholowski — Hronek
Staal — Stecher
Dekeyser — Lindstrom
How to watch
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Little Caesar’s Arena, Detroit
TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network
Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV