Series Preview: Blackhawks vs Hurricanes, March 30th-April 1st, 2021

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Series Preview: Blackhawks vs Hurricanes, March 30th-April 1st, 2021

Chicago Blackhawks

The hunt is on. The Chicago Blackhawks are currently on the outside looking in at the Central Division playoff picture as they welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the United Center for a two-game set to close the month of March.

March was supposed to be a rough stretch for the Blackhawks … and that’s exactly what it was. Chicago entered the month with a decent cushion in the Divisional standings in fourth-place, but a 4-8-1 run has seen them fall to fifth-place behind the Nashville Predators.

This series with the Hurricanes serves as a split for the Blackhawks between a highly difficult month of March and a relatively less difficult month of April. After Thursday’s contest, the Blackhawks next ten games are all against teams that are even or below them in the standings. In other words, no Hurricanes, Panthers, or Lightning again until April 27th.

The playoffs begin now for the Blackhawks.

One-Timers

•   Kevin Lankinen has started in net for the Blackhawks in all three contests this season against the Hurricanes. He will also start the first of this two-game set. He is 1-1-1 in his previous three starts with a .902 save percentage against Carolina this season.

•   Vincentn Trochek will be a game-time decision ahead of the first game of this series. He has missed the last eight games for the Hurricanes, dealing with an upper-body injury. Trochek has 24 points in 24 games for Carolina this season and would be a welcomed addition back to the lineup for the Hurricanes, who are also missing defenseman Jake Gardiner and forward Teuvo Teravainen due to injuries.

•   Martin Necas has been hot as of late for the Hurricanes. He has nine points in his last six games coming into the series and is riding a three-game goals streak. Necas has three points in three games against Chicago this season.

Puck Drops and Broadcast Info

•   Tuesday, March 30th at 6:30 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH, NBCSN
Radio: WGN 720 AM / TUDN 1200 AM

•   Thursday, April 1st at 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH, NBCSN
Radio: WGN 720 AM / TUDN 1200 AM

Expected Lineups

Blackhawks (16-15-5, 37 pts)

DeBrincat – Suter – Kane
Kubalík – Kämpf – Hagel
Janmark – Dach – Strome
Carpenter – Söderberg – Kurashev

de Haan – Boqvist
Keith – Kalynuk
Murphy– Zadorov

Lankinen
Subban

Hurricanes (23-7-3, 49 pts)

Niederreiter – Aho – Necas
Svechnikov – Trocheck – Fast
McGinn – Staal – Foegele
Martinook – Lorentz – Paquette

Slavin – Hamilton
Skjei – Pesce
Fleury – Bean

Nedeljkovic
Reimer

Tale of the Tape

Powerplay
Blackhawks: 27.0% (3rd)
Hurricanes: 30.2% (1st)

Penalty-Kill
Blackhawks: 73.8% (27th)
Hurricanes: 83.0% (8th)

Faceoffs
Blackhawks: 46.7% (27th)
Hurricanes: 54.0% (2nd)

Goals Per Game
Blackhawks: 2.83 (16th)
Hurricanes: 3.27 (7th)

Goals Against Per Game
Blackhawks: 3.11 (22nd)
Hurricanes: 2.52 (7th)

Top Scorer
Blackhawks: Patrick Kane – 13 goals, 35 assists, 48 points
Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho – 15 goals, 18 assists, 33 points

Injury Report

Blackhawks:

Brent Seabrook (LTIR – Retirement)
Zack Smith (LTIR – Back)
Andrew Shaw (LTIR – Concussion)
Alex Nylander (LTIR  – Knee)
Jonathan Toews (LTIR – Illness)

Hurricanes: 

Petr Mrazek (Week-to-week – Thumb)
Vincent Trochek (Game-time decision – Upper Body)
Teuvo Teravainen (Day-to-day – Concussion)
Jake Gardiner (Day-to-day – Back)

Keep An Eye Out For

Not-So-Special Teams. The Blackhawks have rode the struggle bus this month on special teams. While ranking 18th on the powerplay in March with a 17.8% conversion rate, they rank at the bottom of the league in 30th on the penalty-kill with a 71.8% kill-rate in March. On the flip-side, the Hurricanes rank second in both powerplay (34.2%) and penalty-kill (88.1%) rates this month.

Human After All. After playing at a career-best pace through the first two months of the season, Patrick Kane has fallen back to his regular near career-best pace of 1.33 points per game. What a bum, right? Kane had 10 points in 10 games in January and has 14 points in 13 games in March, scoring paces that any player would salivate over. But after his explosive month of February where he scored 24 points in 13 games, we all had Kane pegged as a possible MVP if the Blackhawks could make the playoffs. While he is still third in then NHL in points, Kane is falling further behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the Hart Trophy discussion and if Chicago wants to keep pace and climb back into the playoff picture, Kane will have to lead the charge.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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