Perhaps the Blackhawks are not where we expected them to be through 16 games of the COVID-shortened 2021 NHL season, but the Red Wings sure are.
And that means this series will be another test for the Blackhawks, if you think about it. Are they really as good as they have looked over the past dozen games? Chicago got their first two wins of the season against the Red Wings just about three weeks ago, outscoring them 10-3 in the process. If we are to believe the Blackhawks have truly developed beyond the bottom-feeders of the NHL, they should do more of the same against Detroit again.
• Chicago comes into the series having taken at least one point in the standings in eight of their last ten games since last playing the Red Wings. Detroit has gone 2-6-2 in the ten games since playing the Blackhawks. They are coming home from a six-game road trip where they snapped an eight-game losing streak with a win over the Panthers and are coming off a win over the Predators in their last game. I’m not saying that the Red Wings are riding any kind of hot-streak, but they may have a bit of confidence in their game heading into this series.
• Patrick Kane continues to be the leader of the Blackhawks attack. He leads the team in points this season with 22 in 16 games played. He has 15 points in his last eight games and is tied for third in the NHL in scoring, just behind the two-headed monster in Edmonton with Leon Draisaitl (26) and Connor McDavid (28) leading the league.
• After the breakout seasons of Pius Suter, Philipp Kurashev, Ian Mitchell, and Nicolas Beaudin, one rookie mainstay in the Blackhawks lineup is still without his first game NHL goal. Brandon Hagel has emerged as a energized, strong-nosed depth forward for the Blackhawks this season. He’s gaining a ton of respect and fans for his style of play. After a number of failed breakaway attempts and a fight win over Patrik Laine, Hagel is due for his first NHL tally. He has two assists in 13 games this season, and is playing nearly 14 and a half minutes per night now for the Blackhawks. If there’s a team for him to finally get that first goal against, it’s Detroit.
Puck Drops and Broadcast Info
• Monday, February 15 at 6:30 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH, FS-D, ESPN+
Radio: WGN 720 AM / TUDN 1200-AM
• Wednesday, February 17 at 6:30 p.m. CT
Radio: WGN 720 AM / TUDN 1200-AM
Blackhawks (7-5-4, 18 pts)
DeBrincat – Suter – Kane
Janmark – Strome – Kubalík
Hagel – Söderberg – Kurashev
Highmore – Kämpf – Johnson
Keith – Mitchell
de Haan – Carlsson
Zadorov – Beaudin
Red Wings (4-10-2, 10 pts)
Zadina – Larkin – Brome
Ryan – Fabbri – Mantha
Filppula – Namestnikov – Gagner
Nielsen – Glendening – Erne
Merrill – Hronek
Staal – Stecher
Nemeth – Djoos
Tale of the Tape
Blackhawks: 34.7% (2nd)
Red Wings: 7.8% (30th)
Blackhawks: 80.4% (15th)
Red Wings: 71.7% (27th)
Blackhawks: 48.2% (25th)
Red Wings: 52.1% (8th)
Goals Per Game
Blackhawks: 2.94 (17th)
Red Wings: 2.09 (30th)
Goals Against Per Game
Blackhawks: 2.94 (18th)
Red Wings: 3.19 (22nd)
Blackhawks: Patrick Kane – 7 goals, 15 assists, 22 points
Red Wings: Dylan Larkin – 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points / Filip Hronek – 0 goals, 9 assists, 9 points
Brent Seabrook (IR – Lower Back)
Zack Smith (IR – Back)
Andrew Shaw (IR – Concussion)
Kirby Dach (LTIR – Wrist)
Alex Nylander (LTIR – Knee)
Jonathan Toews (LTIR – Illness)
Connor Murphy (Day-to-day – Hip)
Henrik Zetterberg (IR – Retired)
Darren Helm (Day-to-day – Lower Body)
Tyler Bertuzzi (Day-to-day – Upper Body)
Calvin Pickard (Day-to-day – COVID Protocol)
Keep An Eye Out For
Broken Record: Special Teams. The Blackhawks have a top of the league powerplay unit and a middle of the league penalty-killing unit. It’s been a long time since Chicago has had consistent special teams contributions. Powered by Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, the powerplay should be able to take advantage of a bottom of the league penalty-kill unit in Detroit. The Red Wings have the second-worst powerplay in the league and hopefully the Blackhawks can regain some of their confidence and swagger on the kill after going 2-for-4 against the Blue Jackets in their previous two games.
COVID Returnees. The Blackhawks once had five players land on the COVID Protocol list. But Alex DeBrincat and Nicolas Beaudin only missed a handful of games in their time on the list. Since then, they have come back into the lineup in big ways. The other three Blackhawks that were on the list, Ryan Carpenter, Adam Boqvist, and Lucas Wallmark, have all now been taken off the list. Unfortunately, they all had positive cases of COVID and will take time to get back to game shape. It will be interesting to see how, when, and if all three players fit back into the Chicago lineup.