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:
#Blackhawks recall Alec Regula from AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and place Seth Jones (right thumb) on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 29.— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) November 1, 2022
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)
Athanasiou — Domi — P. Kane
Kurashev— Toews — Raddysh
Blackwell — Dickinson — Lafferty
Katchouk — Entwistle — R. Johnson
McCabe — Roos
Tinordi — Murphy
J. Johnson — C. Jones
Bailey — Barzal — Wahlstrom
Lee — Nelson — Beauvillier
Parise — Pageau — Palmieri
Martin — Cizikas — Clutterbuck
Pelech — Pulock
Romanov — Dobson
Aho — Mayfield
How to watch
When: 7:30 p.m. CT
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Radio: WGN 720
Live stream: Sling TV