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Slave to the Grind: Blackhawks vs Red Wings Preview

The Blackhawks take on an old rival in their 2022-23 home opener.

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NHL: OCT 01 Red Wings at Blackhawks Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After starting the 2022-23 season off with a 1-2-0 road trip, The Chicago Blackhawks return to 1901 W. Madison to take on the Detroit Red Wings in their home opener on Friday evening at the United Center.

While somehow a decade has gone by since the last time Red Wings were in the Western Conference — 2021 not withstanding — old tempers always seem to flare whenever the Hawks meet the Wings during the season. Friday night’s contest will be no exception.

The Wings head into Chicago with a record of 2-0-1 and will undoubtedly look to keep their momentum rolling into the weekend. Veteran winger, David Perron — a foe the Hawks know all too well — leads Detroit in goal-scoring, with three goals and one assist on the season. The speedy Detroit captain, Dylan Larkin, is in a three-way tie for the team lead with three apples thus far. The Wings talented offensive depth chart — which includes former Blackhawks Dominik Kubalik and Pius Suter — is well equipped to give defenses fits. Chicago will surely have their work cut out for them in their own zone.

Detroit also features two solid netminders in Alex Nedeljkovic and Ville Husso. Although their defense has managed, their inconsistencies present the best opportunity for the Blackhawks to capitalize on mismatches — namely from former Hawk Olli Maatta, who is on a three-game point streak but is not the burner on the blue line some of his teammates have shown to be. The Hawks’ focus on tilting the ice against the weaker Wings defenders will be something to look for in-game.

A good example of this is shown in the highlight below. Because Maatta is late to rotate over to his assignment at the half wall, he gets beat. His partner has to rotate over through the slot, which leaves the back door open for the left winger.

If the Red Wings are caught out of position in their own end, the Blackhawks absolutely have to take advantage of their disorganization and find ways to put the puck in the back of the net. Certainly, limiting goals against is key because of the Blackhawks’ suspect Hawks defense and goaltending. But, as the Hawks saw in their Oct. 13 loss to the Golden Knights, even a single goal is enough to hand the team a loss if they cannot score.

Surely, the United Center stands will be filled with a search party, looking for No. 88 in red on the scoresheet Friday evening. Patrick Kane has provided only one assist in the Hawks first three games and is yet to score his first goal of the season. It can be hard to develop chemistry with brand new linemates but if Kane does not get going offensively, things could look very bleak for the Blackhawks. It’s unlikely that they could otherwise count on short-handed goals and other fluky plays to provide consistent goal scoring.

Petr Mrazek will get the start in net for the Hawks. He is 1-1 on the young season. It was also announced that defensemen Jake McCabe will make his return to the lineup on Friday. The veteran d-man underwent cervical spine surgery back in September.

All practical things considered, this is Chicago’s home opener, against a team that fans will always consider a hated rival. Anything can happen. But the Blackhawks can’t count on anything to happen. They have to give it all for 60 minutes if they want a chance at two points in their home debut.

Hopefully, for the fans’ sake, some fluky shit does happen.

Say it with me, friends:

De-troit Sucks!

Tale of the tape (statistics from last season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Red Wings

45.98% (30th) — Corsi For — 46.13% (28th)

45.48% (30th) — Expected goals for — 46.30 (27th)

2.60 (29th) — Goals per game — 2.77 (25th)

3.52 (26th) — Goals against per game — 3.78 (31st)

49.6% (16th) — Faceoffs — 49.4% (18th)

19.2% (21st) — Power play — 16.3% (26th)

76.2% (24th) — Penalty kill — 73.8% (32nd)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Anthanasiou — Domi — Kane

T. Johnson — Toews — Raddysh

Kurashev — Dickinson — Lafferty

Khaira — Blackwell — Entwistle

J. Johnson — S. Jones

Tinordi — Murphy

McCabe — C. Jones

Mrazek

Stalock

Red Wings

Kubalik — Larkin — Raymond

Zadina — Copp — Perron

Soderblom — Rasmussen — Sundqvist

Erne — Veleno — Suter

Chiarot — Seider

Maatta — Hronek

Haag — Lindstrom

Jusso

Nedejlkovic

How to watch, listen

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network

Radio: WGN 720 (in the Chicagoland area)

Live stream: Sling TV