Midway through a six-game home stand, the Blackhawks look to avoid a fourth consecutive loss when they host the New Jersey Devils at the United Center on Friday night.
Although New Jersey is coming off the heels of an impressive 6-1 win over the Penguins, they’ve struggled in their own right, currently owning a record of 18-28-5 and 41 points on the season. While not devoid of top-end talent, the Devils do have a case of the injury bug, with several key players currently missing time. That includes starting goalie Mackenzie Blackwood as well as backup netminder Jonathan Bernier. Marquee offseason acquisition Dougie Hamilton had also missed some time due to a broken jaw, but is back in the New Jersey lineup.
The youthful Devils roster features a good amount of speed and skill spread out among an unselfish core headlined by winger Jesper Bratt, who leads the team with 46 points. Both Bratt and captain Nico Hischier are coming off of three-point games in the Devils’ victory on Thursday evening. While no Devils player has hit the 20-goal mark yet this season, seven are sitting at double-digit totals in both goals and assists. Only three Blackhawks (Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Brandon Hagel) have accomplished that feat thus far.
Even though the Blackhawks injured reserve list has looked the same for some time — most notably with Jonathan Toews still in concussion protocol — Calvin de Haan could be added to it as he was given a maintenance day and did not attend Friday’s optional morning skate.
Calvin de Haan is not on the ice for today’s optional morning skate. He had a maintenance day yesterday.— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) February 25, 2022
Wonder if he could be the reason for Jakub Galvas call-up. #Blackhawks
Both Jakub Galvas — who was recently recalled from Rockford — and Jake McCabe were at Friday’s morning skate and could factor into the lineup against New Jersey in the wake of de Haan’s absence.
De Haan is a gametime decision for the Blackhawks tonight. Galvas was recalled to be his replacement if needed.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) February 25, 2022
Marc-Andre Fleury will also get a breather as Kevin Lankinen makes his first start in net since Jan. 22, when he suffered a right hand injury. Lankinen, who is 2-5-4 in 13 games, started against the Devils in Chicago’s second game of the season back on Oct. 15. He made 25 saves on 29 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss.
Kevin Lankinen is the first goalie off and will start for the Blackhawks vs. Devils tonight.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) February 25, 2022
The rest of the Blackhawks lineup remains mostly intact. This group has had serious issues in the offensive zone and that will need to change if they want to come out of Friday’s game with two points. The Hawks find themselves at 28th in shot share percentage (46.63), 28th in expected goals-for percentage (45.85) and 28th in PDO at 0.983.
It means that the Blackhawks are not a very good possession team, they don’t make the most out of the possession that they have and they’re just not very lucky.
At times, the Blackhawks have shown they can prevent goals, though. Some nights it’s due to better shot suppression, while other nights Marc-Andre Fleury turned himself into a real-life version of Wild Wing. The constant problem with this Blackhawks group has been a concerning lack of offense. And, unlike their 2021 campaign, they haven’t been able to rely on special teams for help via the power play.
Setting the metrics aside, it’s very clear to the naked eye that the Blackhawks need a lot of work. They have shown that they can do good things but they don’t do them consistently. Be it in the faceoff dot, during zone exits and entries, or trying to cycle, they leave a lot to be desired. The Hawks are going to need to get a bit more out of their secondary scoring and to take advantage of any opportunity to put quality shots on goal.
This is a winnable game for the Blackhawks, maybe somebody should let them know.
Blackhawks — Statistic — Devils
46.63% (28th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 50.90% (13th)
46.17% (25th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 51.17% (14th)
2.40 (30th) — Goals per game — 2.96 (15th)
3.32 (24th) — Goals against per game — 3.51 (27th)
49.2% (18th) — Faceoffs — 47.6% (27th)
19.9% (15th) — Power play — 18% (23rd)
74.6% (28th) — Penalty kill — 83.2% (8th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
DeBrincat — Strome — Kane
Kubalik — Reichel — Hagel
Kurashev — Dach —Borgstrom
Entwistle— Carpenter — Lafferty
de Haan? — S. Jones
McCabe — Murphy
C. Jones — Gustafsson
Sharangovich — Hughes — Mercer
Zacha — Hischier — Bratt
Johnsson — Boqvist — Tatar
Vesey — McLeod — Bastian
Siegenthaler — Hamilton
Graves — Severson
Smith — Subban
How to watch
When: 7:30 p.m. CT
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC Sports Chicago