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Total Entertainment Forever: Blackhawks vs. Kraken Preview

The Blackhawks, riding a four-game winning streak, head to Seattle for their second-ever contest against the Kraken

NHL: NOV 17 Blackhawks at Kraken Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Having extended their win streak to four games with a shutout of the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks will look to beat the Seattle Kraken for the second time and extend their winning streak to five.

The Kraken, having fallen all the way to the bottom of the Pacific division (some of us predicted they’d be a playoff team), enter on a nine-game losing streak.

Not a lot’s going right in Seattle currently, as the Kraken have scored 99 goals — there are teams with far fewer — but have allowed 136 in 37 games, the second-most in the NHL so far this season (only Arizona has allowed more and they’re trying to allow more). However, the Kraken also have the third-lowest rate of expected goals against per 60 minutes at just 2.18, trailing only the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins.

The Kraken’s team goaltending across all strengths is the worst in the league with a .874 save percentage, worse than the second-lowest team in New Jersey (.890) by more than 15 points. Philipp Grubauer has fallen off hard from last season’s Vezina nomination with a .880 save percentage and Chris Driedger is also below .900, but is substantially better than Grubauer with a .896.

Seattle’s offense has also struggled to produce, which has contributed to their 10-23-4 record. The Kraken have 2 expected goals per 60 at 5-on-5, last in the league, and the team is converting just a bit above expected with 2.09 goals at 5-on-5. However, the Kraken are producing more goals per game than the Blackhawks with 2.68.

Neither of the Kraken’s special teams units have been that special so far this season, with the power play ranked 19th and the penalty kill ranked 23rd. However, both of the Blackhawks’ special teams units are below the Kraken’s — so that’s fun.

The Kraken are led by Jordan Eberle, selected from the Islanders in the expansion draft, who has 12 goals and 12 assists so far this season. Jared McCann, taken from Toronto, has more goals with 15 and Jaden Schwartz, Alex Wennberg and Joonas Donskoi have more assists with 14 each.

However, Schwartz is out following hand surgery while Brandon Tanev is out for the rest of the season for the team and Morgan Geekie missed the Kraken’s game on Jan. 12 and has not played since then.

On the Blackhawks’ side, Jake McCabe was recently removed from the COVID-19 protocol, although Seth Jones, Kirby Dach, Dylan Strome and Brett Connolly remain there. Ian Mitchell and Lukas Reichel were re-assigned to Rockford and Mike Hardman and Cale Morris were put on the taxi squad on Sunday. Hardman may be playing in this game after just being moved up to the active roster.

Both of these teams look to be battling more for draft position than for a potential playoff spot but are currently heading in different directions.

Even after the Blackhawks’ four-game winning streak, they are three points behind the Stars, who have three games in hand; four points behind the Jets, who have four in hand and 14 points behind the Blues, the closest in-division team who has played at least as many games. The Blackhawks are five points behind the Flames (who have four games in hand), who are the second wildcard by points percentage.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Kraken

46.9% (27th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 48.72% (19th)

46.1% (25th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 47.89% (22nd)

2.37 (29th) — Goals per game — 2.68 (24th)

3.24 (22nd) — Goals against per game — 3.65 (31st)

49.1% (20th) — Faceoffs — 48.9% (20th)

18.7% (20th) — Power play — 19.2% (19th)

75.7% (26th) — Penalty kill — 77.9% (23rd)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Hagel — Reichel — Kane

DeBrincat — Toews — Kubalik

Borgstrom — Lafferty — Kurashev

Khaira — Carpenter— Entwistle

de Haan — Murphy

Stillman — Galvas

C. Jones — McCabe

Fleury

Lankinen

Kraken

Johansson — McCann — Eberle

Donato — Gourde — Jarnkrok

Donskoi — Wennberg — Appleton

Sheahan — True — Blackwell

Lauzon — Giordano

Larsson — Dunn

Oleksiak — Soucy

Grubauer

Driedger

How to watch

When: 4 p.m. CT

Where: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Webstream: ESPN+