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Back in the Saddle: Blackhawks at Bruins

The struggling Blackhawks take on a surging Bruins team Saturday night.

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Chicago Blackhawks v Boston Bruins Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks are in Boston to face off against the league-leading Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

Not only are the Bruins at the top of the league with a 15-2-0 record, but they’re the only team in the league that is undefeated at home through 10 games — only the fifth time that’s happened in NHL history. In those 10 home games, the Bruins have outscored their opponent 39 to 17 (including 12 power play goals) and had a +52 shot differential. They’re also currently on a five-game win streak, four of which have come in Boston. Safe to say, the Blackhawks will have their work cut out for them if they hope to get back into the win column.

In the off season, Boston managed to resign Patrice Bergeron (who was flirting with retirement) and David Krejci (who had retired from the NHL the previous season) to make at least one last big push for a Stanley Cup. The Bruins started the season down a few key players, but their depth kept them on the winning side of things, and now they seem near unstoppable with the return of Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy in the last few weeks.

Still, the offensive load has been carried much by David Pastrnak, who leads the other Bruins players by a wide margin with 26 points (9 G, 17 A) in 17 games. Next up are Bergeron with 15 points (8 G, 7 A) in 17 games and Jake DeBrusk with 12 points (6 G, 6 A) in 16 games. Despite missing the first eight games, Marchand is tied for fourth with 11 points in 9 games with Taylor Hall (17 games), Pavel Zacha (17 games) and Krejci (14 games). Hampus Lindholm, 2022 Trade Deadline acquisition for the Bruins, has been a revelation on the blueline with 18 points (4 G, 14 A) in 17 games.

Goalie Jeremy Swayman is expected to play for the Bruins. He’s only played in four games so far this season and has just a .878 save-percentage, so if there’s one weakness for Boston tonight, it’s in net.

The Blackhawks have been on a bit of a spiral lately, having only won twice in their last 10 games. They managed to pick up a loser point in three of those games, but it’s been undeniable that their quality of play has been slipping as the season has progresses. In their latest two losses against the Carolina Hurricanes and St. Louis Blues, the Blackhawks were outscored 8-2 and clearly outmatched much of the games. The Blackhawks are really going to have to turn their lackluster performance around if they don’t want to be embarrassed by a dominant Bruins team.

Chicago has struggled to score most of the season, but it’s been a bigger issue lately: in their last 10 games, they’re dead last in the league with just 20 goals in all situations and second to last in 5-on-5 goals with 13 goals (behind only the Arizona Coyotes who have 11). This isn’t surprising considering they’ve been at the bottom or near in every shot category in that same span: shot attempts (32nd), shots on goal (31st), scoring chances (31st), and expected goals (31st).

Patrick Kane and Max Domi lead the Blackhawks with 13 and 11 points in 16 games respectively, but they’re both on nine-game goalless streaks. Andreas Athanasiou scored twice for Chicago against the Blues on Wednesday, but that was going six games without a goal, and Jonathan Toews has been stuck at seven goals now for five games straight. Considering the lack of depth the Blackhawks have this season, there’s little to no offense when these top-four are not scoring regularly.

Defensively, the Blackhawks have been just as poor, but their goals against per game (3.13) has been middle of the pack thanks to their goalies. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include the reported starter against the Bruins: Petr Mrazek has just a .897 save-percentage and -2.09 goals saved above expected. He’s likely still somewhat recovering from his groin injury, but the Blackhawks will need him to be much better if they don’t want to be trounced by the Bruins.

There are only minor lineup changes from the Blues games: Colin Blackwell will replace Boris Katchouk on the fourth-line, and Ian Mitchell will make his season debut on defence in place of the floundering Caleb Jones.

Final note: today is Kane’s birthday, so hopefully we at least get some birthday goals.

Tale of the tape (statistics from this season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Bruins

41.29% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 51.26% (11th)

40.63% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 53.55% (8th)

2.50 (31st) — Goals per game — 4.00 (1st)

3.13 (15th) — Goals against per game — 2.12 (1st)

58.5% (1st) — Faceoffs — 56.7% (2nd)

22.5% (11th) — Power play — 27.0% (6th)

76.7% (23rd) — Penalty kill — 90.6% (2nd)

Projected lineups (subject to change)


Athanasiou — Domi — P. Kane

Kurashev — Toews — Raddysh

Entwistle — Dickinson — Lafferty

Blackwell — R. Johnson — Khaira

Tinordi — Murphy

J. Johnson — McCabe

Roos — Michell




Marchand — Bergeron — Pastrnak

Hall — Krejci — DeBrusk

Frederic — Coyle — Zacha

Foligno — Nosek — Greer

Grzelcyk — McAvoy

Lindholm — Clifton

Stalman — Carlo



How to watch

When: 6:00 p.m. CT

Where: TD Garden, Boston

TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network

Radio: WGN 720

Live stream: Sling TV