After a competitive effort turned into a catastrophic loss on Thursday night in Boston, the Blackhawks look to bounce back on Saturday evening against the Senators, at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
While the Senators are searching for a third consecutive win, they previously had lost a disastrous seven out of eight and currently own a record of 21-31-5. Saturday night could be a get-right spot for the Blackhawks, who are still battling to inch toward a .500 record. Ironically, the Senators were the first team the Hawks were able to get a victory over this season, after their infamous nine-loss start to the season.
On the injury front, Ottawa is without goaltender Matt Murray, who recently suffered a neck injury. Former Blackhawks back-up goalie Anton Forsberg will get the start in net for the Sens, as he’s had the hot hand in back-to-back Ottawa victories, including an impressive 4-1 road win over the Blues.
Forsberg is having the best season of his seven-year NHL career, posting a save-percentage of .922 and goals-against average of 2.70 per game in 26 games played. It’s no secret that Ottawa has struggled this season, however, the Hawks will still need to create some offense if they want to escape Canada’s capital with two points on Saturday night.
The Senators are also still missing center Drake Batherson, who posted 34 points (13 g, 21 a) in 31 games before going down with an ankle injury back in January. However, the young Ottawa forward group is a speedy bunch who can find ways to win. The Hawks will have to be particularly considerate of team point leaders, Brady Tkachuck, Tim Stutzle and Thomas Chabot who can all find ways to score in a hurry.
What seems to be encouraging over on the flip side of things, is that the Blackhawks are mostly healthy. While coach Derek King has not decided on a final line-up ahead of Saturday’s game, Marc-Andre Fleury has been confirmed as the starter in net.
Fleury starts for Blackhawks tonight vs. Senators.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 12, 2022
Lineup TBD, King said he has a decision he hasn't made yet.
Fleury’s overall numbers are not the best, but much of that is reflective of the team playing in front of him, especially before the Hawks made an early season coaching change. Fleury has been a brick wall, bailing the team out time and time again. If the team in front of him can put on a sound defensive effort, the Hawks main concern will be what it always seems to be: find ways to score goals.
The straw that stirs the drink which is the Blackhawks offense is none other than Patrick Kane. No. 88 in red, along with the tandem of Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome, exploded for a total 5 goals and 9 assists in an 8-3 waxing of the Ducks on Tuesday evening. The trio was able to contribute four more points in Thursday’s loss to the Bruins. This line is the key Chicago’s offense and will need to find ways to gain advantageous match-ups against Ottawa, in order to come out on top.
The bottom line in this match-up is that, when it comes to the numbers, there is nota whole lot of good. The stats are mostly bad and even more so, ugly. Save for a few bright spots, these are two struggling teams. The standings and the eye-test will look mostly the same. But the Blackhawks do have a few more experienced players in their line-up, and on some nights, more dangerous weapons. Make no mistake, the Hawks can and should win this game. The question is, which Blackhawks will show up in Ottawa on Saturday night?
Blackhawks — Statistic — Senators
46.91% (29th) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 46.98% (26th)
46.88% (24th) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 46.387% (25th)
2.57 (26th) — Goals per game — 2.63 (25th)
3.43 (25th) — Goals against per game — 3.19 (21st)
48.4% (21st) — Faceoffs — 48.4% (22nd)
20% (17th) — Power play — 18.1% (24th)
76.2% (24th) — Penalty kill — 80.3% (13th)
Projected lineups (subject to change)
DeBrincat — Strome — Kane
Hagel — Toews — Dach
Kubalik — Kurashev — T. Johnson
Borgstrom — Carpenter — Lafferty
de Haan — S. Jones
McCabe — Murphy
Stillman — Regula
Tkachuk— Norris — C. Brown
Formenton — Stutzle — Gaudette
Paul — White — Sanford
Kelly — Gambrell — Watson
Chabot — Zub
Holden — Zaitzev
Brannstrom— J. Brown
How to watch
When: 6 p.m. CT
Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa
TV: NBC Sports Chicago