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No Sleep Til Brooklyn: Blackhawks vs. Islanders preview

The Blackhawks welcome the Islanders to the United Center on Tuesday.

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Chicago Blackhawks v New York Islanders
Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks gets a shot off against the New York Islanders
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Three losses in a row have effectively ended the Chicago Blackhawks’ hot start to the season, as they welcome the New York Islanders to town for the first time since Oct. 19, 2021.

The Islanders aren’t coming in on off the hottest start to the season, either, riding a 5-4 record so far. However, their recent games have seen three straight wins over playoff teams from last season, including the Rangers, Hurricanes and Avalanche.

It was a unique offseason for the Islanders, as the team fired Barry Trotz, arguably one of the best head coaches in the league, and replaced him with Lane Lambert. In addition, New York traded the No. 13 in the 2022 NHL Draft for Alexander Romanov and a fourth-round pick from Montreal (that No. 13 pick became Blackhawks’ prospect Frank Nazar III).

This season, New York is led by Mathew Barzal, who has 10 points in his first nine games, after getting a massive contract extension in the offseason. However, Barzal has yet to score a single goal, with all 10 of his points being assists. Anders Lee, with four goals and Brock Nelson with three are also at a point-per-game pace each. Oliver Wahlstrom is tied for the team lead in goals with four. The Islanders are also getting good goaltending at the start of this season, as Ilya Sorokin has taken the starters’ net and posted a .933 save percentage in his first six starts. Semyon Varlamov, meanwhile, has a .907 start to the year.

The Islanders have had a decent start to the season in terms of possession as well, as they’re 12th in the league in shot share (50.56%) and 16th in expected goal share (50.03%). However, that’s likely to elevate against the Blackhawks, who now stand 29th in shot share (43.1%) and 27th in expected goal share (43.6%).

Speaking of the Blackhawks, they’re dealing with an early-season injury bug, as Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson and Petr Mrazek are now missing from the lineup. Johnson and Mrazek are both on IR and Jones may be joining them there, as he is expected to miss three to four weeks due to the right thumb injury.

[UPDATE] Jones is now on injured reserve, with Alec Regular recalled to replace Jones in the lineup:

The good news on that front is that Boris Katchouk was finally activated after being injured in the preseason and was back in the lineup on Sunday.

With Johnson and his six points in six games out of the lineup, Patrick Kane found his usual form for the Blackhawks. Kane now has nine points in nine games after starting the season with just one assist in his first four. Kane has three multiple-point performances in his last five games. Additionally, Jonathan Toews looks very good this season, with five goals in his first nine games, while young players like Taylor Raddysh and Philipp Kurashev are taking necessary steps forward, each with six points this season.

Chicago’s disappointing results of late aren’t actually that disappointing as well. Their three straight losses are not only by just one goal a piece — including two losses in overtime — those defeats came against two playoff teams from last year in Edmonton and Minnesota and against the Sabres, who are off to a hot start and are currently second in the Atlantic division.

In a year of tanking, that’s about as good as you’re going to get. It’s not about the losses, it’s about who those losses are against and how entertaining they are. And right now, the Blackhawks are getting some pretty entertaining losses.

Let’s tank, Hawks.

Tale of the tape (statistics from last season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Islanders

45.98% (30th) — Corsi For — 46.04% (29th)

45.48% (30th) — Expected goals for — 47.21% (22nd)

2.60 (29th) — Goals per game — 2.79 (23rd)

3.52 (26th) — Goals against per game — 2.82 (7th)

49.6% (16th) — Faceoffs — 51.3% (8th)

19.2% (21st) — Power play — 22.1% (12th)

76.2% (24th) — Penalty kill — 84.2% (4th)

Projected lineups (card subject to change)

Blackhawks

Athanasiou — Domi — P. Kane

Kurashev— Toews — Raddysh

Blackwell — Dickinson — Lafferty

Katchouk — Entwistle — R. Johnson

McCabe — Roos

Tinordi — Murphy

J. Johnson — C. Jones

Stalock

Söderblom

Islanders

Bailey — Barzal — Wahlstrom

Lee — Nelson — Beauvillier

Parise — Pageau — Palmieri

Martin — Cizikas — Clutterbuck

Pelech — Pulock

Romanov — Dobson

Aho — Mayfield

Sorokin

Varlamov

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Radio: WGN 720

Live stream: Sling TV