I was told these two teams were supposed to be battling for the number one pick in the 2021 NHL draft. So why are the Red Wings tied for the division lead with four points in the standings? Are they actually good? Are the Blackhawks that trash? No, and probably no. But this once “Clash of the Titans” matchup in the NHL has now become a punchline.
Red Wings-Blackhawks as the national matinee game for NBC on Sunday lmaooooo
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) January 21, 2021
Yeah, it’s come to this.
Chicago opens the doors to the United Center for the first time since March 11 on Friday night and all eyes will be on these two bottom-feeder teams come Sunday afternoon. Where the Blackhawks’ matchup against the Lightning to begin the season was a litmus test against the best of the league, the first of eight contests against the Red Wings serves as a litmus test for just how low the bar will be for the Blackhawks in 2021.
• Chicago enters this series as the last-place team in the NHL with just one point in the standings through the first four games of the season. They were the last team to earn a point in the standings of the 30 who have played a game, and are one of the last two along with the Los Angeles Kings still looking for a win. Chicago’s winless start is it’s longest since the start of the 1997-98 season, where they lost the first seven games of the season.
• The Red Wings enter the series having wins over the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets. Detroit is expected to finish at the bottom of the league this season, but their lineup isn’t as talent-thin as the Blackhawks lineup is and they have a number of top-end young players already clicking. The franchise went full-blown rebuild a few seasons ago and are ahead in the process that the Blackhawks are just now sinking into.
• Bobby Ryan is a fantastic story. He came back last season with the Ottawa Senators after missing time being in the league’s substance abuse program and was honored with the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Ryan had a years-long battle with alcohol abuse and his return to health was highlighted by a hat-trick in his second game back. In his start to the season with the Red Wings, he has four goals in three games played and is tied for the league lead
Puck Drops and Broadcast Info
• Friday, January 22 at 7 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH, FS-D
Radio: WGN 720 AM
• Sunday, January 24 at 11:30 a.m. CT
TV: NBC, TVAS
Radio: WGN 720 AM
Blackhawks (0-3-1, 1 pts)
DeBrincat – Suter – Kane
Kubalík – Strome – Kurashev
Janmark – Wallmark – Shaw
Hagel – Kämpf – Carpenter
Subban / Lankinen / Delia
Red Wings (2-2-0, 4 pts)
Namestnikov – Larkin – Zadina
Ryan – Rasmussen – Mantha
Bertuzzi – Glendening – Brome
Nielsen – Filppula – Helm
Hronek – Nemeth
Dekeyser – Djoos
Staal – Stetcher
Bernier / Greiss
Brent Seabrook (IR – Lower Back)
Zack Smith (IR – Back)
Kirby Dach (LTIR – Out 4-5 months – Wrist)
Alex Nylander (LTIR – Out 4-6 months – Knee)
Jonathan Toews (LTIR – Illness)
Henrik Zetterberg (IR – Retired)
Adam Erne (Day-to-day)
Robby Fabbri (Day-to-day)
Jon Merrill (Day-to-day)
Sam Gagner (Day-to-day)
Keep An Eye Out For
Blackhawks Goaltending. The Blackhawks have allowed five goals in each of their first four games. Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, and Kevin Lankinen have looked decent at times, but out-matched more often than not to begin the year. Part of that is inexperience at the NHL level and a skill-gap, the other part is the defense being played in front of them. Kevin Lankinen looks to be in net for at least one of these two contests since he is still on the active roster heading into Friday.
Five Alive: The Blackhawks Goalie Competition is Wide-Openhttps://t.co/XvENfzQkCE
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) January 20, 2021
Filip Hronek: Eater of minutes. The Red Wings have a decent number of young players that make up their nightly lineup. Of all of them, third-year defenseman Filip Hronek is their most-deployed player. The 23-year-old is averaging just over 25 minutes a night, which leads all Red Wings players and is 15th in the NHL. Used on the powerplay and the penalty-kill, Hronek is an underrated driving force behind Detroit and will be a challenge to solve defensively for Chicago.