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Actions Not Words: Blackhawks at Rangers Preview

The Blackhawks begin a three-game road trip, with their first stop being in the Big Apple.

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New York Rangers v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There’s no way to dress up recent events in a way where they don’t look bowling-shoe ugly. The Chicago Blackhawks got smacked around in the month of November and are currently riding an eight-game losing streak. The Hawks will undoubtedly look to turn their fortunes around on Saturday evening when they begin a short road trip with a game against the New York Rangers.

The good news for the Blackhawks is that the Rangers are entering the second game of a back-to-back, following an overtime loss to the Senators on Friday night. However, hoping for a fatigued opponent to be some sort of advantage for the Hawks may be reaching for some low-hanging fruit. The Rangers 11-9-4 record is not exactly indicative of the talent they employ on their roster and behind the bench. If the Blackhawks want to put an end to their dreadful losing stretch, they’ll have the work cut out for them.

The Rangers have plenty of scoring threats, including Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider — who each have 11 goals on the season — as well as former Blackhawks star Artemi Panarin and 2020-21 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox, who each have 6 goals and 19 assists thus far. The dual attack of New York’s dangerous forward groups and their offensive-minded blueline provides plenty of pressure for the Hawks at both even strength and on special teams. The last thing the Hawks want to do against the Rangers is to put themselves in a short-handed situation.

Igor Shesterkin is expected to get the start in net for New York. He’s currently 10-4-3 with a .913 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average. Even if the Hawks can keep pucks out of their own net, they’re going to have to find ways to put on more shots. Creating better passing and shooting lanes with better cycling in the offensive zone would be a good start.

While the Rangers are injury free for the most part, the Hawks are still without Tyler Johnson and Alex Stalock. Jarred Tinordi is also expected to miss about a week with a hip injury. Arvid Soderblom is expected to get the start for the Blackhawks.

There’s really only one way to put things: if the Hawks want to end this miserable stretch, they better find the damn magic... and they better find it fast.

Tale of the tape (statistics from this season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Rangers

41.23% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 48.75% (21st)

40.65% (30th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 48.26% (23rd)

2.48 (31st) — Goals per game — 2.96 (20th)

3.62 (29th) — Goals against per game — 2.80 (10th)

56.4% (1st) — Faceoffs — 48.5% (21st)

21.9% (17th) — Power play — 20.2% (22nd)

72.6% (26th) — Penalty kill — 82.9% (5th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Athanasiou — Toews— Kane

Kurashev — Domi — Raddysh

Khaira — Dickinson — Blackwell

Katchouk — Entwistle — R. Johnson

J. Johnson — S. Jones

Roos — Murphy

McCabe — C. Jones

Mrazek

Söderblom

Rangers

Kreider — Zibanejad — Vesey

Panarin — Chytil — Kravtisov

Lafreniere — Trocheck — Kakko

Blais — Goodrow — Gauthier

Lindgren — Fox

Miller — Schneider

Hajek — Trouba

Shesterkin

Halak

How to watch

When: 6:30 p.m. CT

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York

TV: NBCSCH

Radio: WGN 720

Live stream: Sling TV