As the 2021 regular season inches closer to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks fate is still yet to be decided. Chicago will be in search of the two vital points needed to keep their playoff hopes alive when they face off at the United Center against the Predators for the final time this season.
Heading into Wednesday night’s matchup against Nashville, the Blackhawks were still seeking their first victory against their Central Division rival. In a game that seemed to be out of reach, The Blackhawks battled back from being down 4-1 midway through the third period to a 5-4 victory in overtime. The resilient, late-game comeback stands to be one of the biggest in the Blackhawks’ modern era.
The good news for the Blackhawks is that their recent victory over the Predators keeps their playoff hopes alive. The bad news is that forcing overtime came with the hefty price tag of giving a point to Nashville, something that the Blackhawks cannot afford to do on Friday night.
Blackhawks’ playoff odds would have been 2% with a loss last night. They went to 11% with the win. They’ll tick up a few more percentage points tonight because the Stars lost to the Wings 7-3.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 23, 2021
The NHL has seen several lockout-shortened seasons in the past. However, the 2021 season’s shortened schedule is unique in that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams have been restricted to divisional play only. The implications of both regulation and overtime losses is something that all teams seeking a playoff spot are dealing with.
The Blackhawks currently find themselves two places out of a playoff spot, three points behind the Predators and one point behind the Stars. Not only is a Blackhawks victory in Friday night’s matchup mandatory, but Chicago will also benefit greatly if the Red Wings can play spoiler to the Stars once more on Saturday. I will never advocate cheering for Detroit, so let’s just chalk this up as “hoping Dallas doesn’t win”.
Malcolm Subban in the starter's crease at morning skate. Would be his 3rd start and 4th appearance in the Blackhawks' last 4 games.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 23, 2021
No de Haan, as far as I can see.
Wednesday night continued the Blackhawks’ trend of losing defenseman ( ... and helmets) as Calvin de Haan left the game early due to the same nagging hip pointer injury that’s been bothering him for a while. That won’t be an issue in this one, as coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed at the morning skate that de Haan is out and Nicolas Beaudin is back in the lineup.
Malcolm Subban, who was key in Wednesday night’s victory, will get another look in net.
Without Jonathan Toews or Brent Seabrook in the locker room, there has been a noticeable absence of vocal leadership that the Blackhawks organization has been accustomed to. Between the players and coaching staff, they’re going to need to find a way to get fired up for their season series finale against Nashville. Maybe someone gives a speech to the likes of Braveheart or Any Given Sunday. Ducks fly together, so why can’t the Hawks?
Guess we’ll find out if Collition can find a way to play the role of Herb Brooks for the evening or if the Hawks miracle already came in the form of Wednesday’s victory.
Let’s Go Hawks!
Blackhawks — Statistic — Predators
47.07% (26th) — 5-on-5 Corsi for — 50.44% (14th)
45.49% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 49.66 (18th)
2.76 (19th) — Goals per game — 2.57 (25th)
3.09 (20th) — Goals against per game — 2.81 (15th)
46.8% (28th) — Faceoffs — 51.6% (8th)
23.6% (7th) — Power play — 18.3% (22nd)
75.8% (27th) — Penalty kill — 75.0% (29th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
Hinostroza — Suter — Kane
DeBrincat — Dach — Hagel
Kubalik — Kurashev — TBD
Connolly — Kampf — Carpenter
Kalynuk — Murphy
Keith — Boqvist
Stillman — Zadorov
Tolvanen — Johansen — Arvidsson
Jarnrok — Granlund — Kunin
Cousins — Haula — Duchene
Trenin — Sissons — Jeannot
Josi — Gudbranson
Ekholm — Ellis
Harpur — Benning
How to watch
When: 7 p.m. CT
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network
Live stream: NBC Sports app