Series Preview: Blackhawks vs Blue Jackets, February 11 and 13, 2021

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Series Preview: Blackhawks vs Blue Jackets, February 11 and 13, 2021

Chicago Blackhawks

We’ve made it once around the block! The Chicago Blackhawks have played every team in the Central Division twice this season, coming away with a 6-4-4 record and at least one point in the standings against every team in the Division besides the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not too shabby.

Now they begin their next tour around the block, starting with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Chicago is 1-1-0 against Columbus this season.

One-Timers

•   Kevin Lankinen. That’s it, that’s the tw- no just kidding, of course there’s plenty to say about the Finnish rookie. Lankinen has been the Blackhawks MVP so far this season. Without him, they are not close to being 6-4-4 and flirting with a playoff-contending pace. He’s a top-five goaltender in the NHL so far this season and will likely be the netminder for at least one, if not both matchups against the Blue Jackets. He made 57 saves on 60 shots in the two previous games between the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets this season.

•   The special teams disparity between these two teams will be interesting to watch, especially as a Blackhawks fan. Chicago comes into this series with a top-five powerplay and a top-ten penalty-kill. When’s the last time that Chicago had both sides of the special teams coin clicking like this? It’s been a while. Columbus has struggled on both the powerplay and penalty-kill so far this season. They’ll need to stay out of the box to avoid a hot Chicago powerplay unit that has converted on seven of it’s last 20 opportunities.

•   The Blue Jackets have had their fill of distractions this season already. First, it was the Pierre-Luc Dubois benching and trade. Then it was the Patrick Laine benching, after trading FOR him. Then the sudden retirement of Mikko Koivu. Needless to say, this will be a Blue Jackets team that will need to keep it’s head on straight if they are to avoid falling to a Blackhawks team on the rise.

Puck Drops and Broadcast Info

•   Thursday, February 11 at 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH, FS-O
Radio: WGN 720 AM

•   Saturday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH, FS-O
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Expected Lineups

Blackhawks (6-4-4, 16 pts)

Janmark – Suter – Kane
DeBrincat – Strome – Kubalík
Kurashev – Söderberg – Hagel
Highmore – Kämpf 

Keith – Mitchell
deHaan – Carlsson
Zadorov – Beaudin
Bowey

Lankinen
Subban

Blue Jackets (6-5-3, 15 pts)

Laine – Roslovic – Atkinson
Grigorenko – Jenner – Texier
Domi – Stenlund– Bjorkstrand
Robinson – Nash – Foligno

Gavrikov – Jones
Harrington – Savard
Del Zotto – Peeke

Korpisalo
Kivlenieks

Tale of the Tape

Powerplay
Blackhawks: 35.6% (3rd)
Blue Jackets: 13.2% (25th)

Penalty-Kill
Blackhawks: 83.0% (9th)
Blue Jackets: 77.4% (22nd)

Faceoffs
Blackhawks: 46.8% (25th)
Blue Jackets: 46.3% (29th)

Goals Per Game
Blackhawks: 2.79 (20th)
Blue Jackets: 2.71 (23rd)

Goals Against Per Game
Blackhawks: 2.79 (17th)
Blue Jackets: 3.14 (21st)

Top Scorer
Blackhawks: Patrick Kane – 6 goals, 11 assists, 17 points
Blue Jackets: Oliver Bjorkstrand – 4 goals, 7 assists, 11 points

Injury Report

Blackhawks:

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)
Connor Murphy (Day-to-day – Hip)
Ryan Carpenter (Day-to-day – COVID Protocol)
Andrew Shaw (Day-to-day – Concussion)

Blue Jackets: 

Gustav Nyquist (Out Indefinitely – Shoulder)
Brandon Dubinsky (LTIR – Wrist)
Zach Werenski (Day-to-day – Lower Body)
Elvis Merzlikins (Day-to-day – Upper Body)

Keep An Eye Out For

Rookies, Rookies, and more Rookies! The Blackhawks have rode on the coat-tails of a bunch of young players this season. Kevin Lankinen, Pius Suter, and Philipp Kurashev could be Calder Trophy contenders this year, while Ian Mitchell, Brandon Hagel, and Nicolas Beaudin have taken impressive strides in their first real tastes of NHL action. Paired with the Chicago “big guns” like Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Dominik Kubalík providing offensive punch, the Blackhawks have been able to string together some impressive games in their last 11 outings.

New Faces, Same Problems? The last thing John Tortorella wants to do is bench a player. Yet he benched a disgruntled Pierre-Luc Dubois, which prompted the trade with the Winnipeg Jets to acquire Jack Roslovic and former second-overall pick Patrick Laine. Now, Torts was at it again, benching Laine in his fourth game as a member of the Blue Jackets. It’s no secret the talent Roslovic and Laine have, but you have to wonder whether the old-school tactics of Tortorella are starting to run thin in the Columbus locker room.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.