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Bullet with Butterfly Wings: Blackhawks vs. Senators Preview

The Blackhawks host Alex DeBrincat for the first time. Oh, and Ottawa tags along.

Ottawa Senators v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For the first time in his NHL career, Alex DeBrincat will visit the United Center and the Chicago Blackhawks as a member of the opposing squad, currently the Ottawa Senators.

It’s a good thing, too. Nobody good should be stuck on this team long-term, which is part of the reason that Patrick Kane, Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty were among those shipped out at the deadline (let’s just ignore that Philipp Kurashev and Connor Murphy are still here).

When the Blackhawks defeated the Senators on Feb. 17, the previous matchup between these two teams this year, the Blackhawks were at least attempting to approximate an NHL team. The Blackhawks were at the start of a five-game winning streak and Kane was beginning his hot streak, the final symphony of his Blackhawks career.

Now, the Senators are better and the Blackhawks are ... something. Ottawa bought at the NHL trade deadline, acquiring Jakob Chychrun and casting off Nikita Zaitsev (to the Blackhawks). The Senators also added depth in Patrick Brown, while retaining a prime trade deadline candidate in Cam Talbot.

The Senators are tied with the Sabres for fourth in the Atlantic Division — although the Sabres have a game in hand — and are riding a five-game win streak after beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Saturday night. While the Blackhawks gave the Stars a tough contest on Thursday — more embarrassing for Dallas than anything — the Senators should have fairly high hopes for extending their win streak against Chicago, a team coming on on a four-game losing streak. When Kurashev — however good he may be — is playing first-line center for the Blackhawks, most teams should be able to handily defeat Chicago. Especially a team like Ottawa that’s added pieces both last offseason and at Friday’s deadline.

The Senators are led in scoring by Tim Stutzle and Brady Tkachuk, each of whom scored 66 points so far this season. Stutzle, however, did so in 58 games, while Tkachuk played four more games. Claude Giroux, in his first season with his hometown team, has scored 63 points in 62 games.

DeBrincat has struggled somewhat with his new team, scoring just 20 goals with 34 assists in 62 games. DeBrincat’s goals have come with a shooting percentage of 10 percent, well below his career average of 14.6 percent and the 15.5 percent mark he had during six seasons in Chicago.

The Blackhawks are not a good team and did everything they could to get worse at the deadline. The Senators have been making consistent efforts to improve, grabbing one of the headline targets of this year’s deadline, signing one of the premier free agents from last offseason’s class and also trading for one of the best players available last summer.

The Blackhawks would be better off sending, like, half their players back to the AHL and making sure the IceHogs are able to get to the playoffs this season. We’ve got 20 games left. None of them should be fun.

Let’s go IceHogs.

Tale of the Tape (statistics from this season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Senators

43.27% (31st) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 51.41% (9th)

41.33% (31st) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 51.99% (13th)

2.44 (32nd) — Goals per game — 3.18 (15th)

3.6 (27th) — Goals against per game — 3.11 (16th)

54.2% (3rd) — Faceoffs — 51.4% (12th)

17.4% (27th) — Power play — 24.9% (6th)

75.7% (24th) — Penalty kill — 82.7% (6th)

How to watch

When: 8:00 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Radio: WGN 720