BlackHawks Embark on Two-Game Win Streak, Head to Detroit Next
Things are rolling in Chicago! The Blackhawks have defied fans, division rivals and perhaps even themselves as the team maintains a playoff spot in the Central Division, and will look to go push even further forward in today’s game against Detroit.
Tonight's game will kick off one of three games to finish out the week, and bring Chicago to exactly 20 games played this season, or a little more than a third of the season.
The team has performed above questionable expectations for this season. With Detroit tonight and an important two-game series this weekend, we look ahead with the previews for both teams and what this week means for Chicago.
Finishing Off the Series in Detroit
When the 2021 NHL season started, there was an uncertainty about the BlackHawks’ chances, to say the least. While some fondly pondered the dynasty team of the 2010s and the pieces that remained, most expectations had the team finishing out of a playoff spot.
The teams were both supposedly entering (or continuing) rebuilding periods, and both of their seasons were predicted to be finished directly after the 56 game schedule.
The idea of Chicago finishing somewhere near Detroit at the bottom was not extreme. However, thus far, only Detroit has fulfilled that expectation, sitting directly in last place in the Central Division. Chicago, has definitely played better currently in fourth, but has also played three or four games more than the teams ahead of them.
Chicago won the first game of this doubleheader with Detroit in overtime, and it's something the Illinois team should like to avoid. The BlackHawks need to win tonight and do it convincingly. The Red Wings are far away from truly competing, and Chicago needs to give the impression that the gap between them is deserved.
The team went up 2-0 in the first game and then just fell back, letting Detroit tie the game up and forcing an extra period. Biggest factors in tonight’s game will be taking advantage of chances and keeping the motivation throughout the game. The last thing Chicago needs on its playoff hunt is to draw a series against the worst team in the division.
Final Score: Chicago 2, Detroit 0
Defense Necessary vs. Carolina
This Friday and Saturday will mark a very important two-game series against Carolina, who are currently tied on points. However, Carolina has four games in hand, giving them the advantage for being one of the four playoff teams.
Both teams are also currently on win streaks, with Carolina winning three in a row as of Wednesday. Both tied on points as well, a good showing here could mean that Chicago could pull ahead and potentially be in second place in the division.
Having played more games than many of the divisional teams, this is exactly where Chicago would like to be. The team needs an advantage with other teams having so many games in hand.
This will be the second two-game series the teams have played this season, with Carolina winning the first game and Chicago the second. Goaltending and defense will be a major issue for the BlackHawks. Malcolm Subban has been expectedly mediocre so far this season, and was lucky to escape Monday’s game against Detroit with only two goals allowed.
Collin Delia has only started two games and the statistics that followed were atrocious.
Kevin Lankinen has been Chicago’s go-to guy this season in goal and might be the biggest reason for the difference in expectations and results for the BlackHawks so far. Lankinen will likely get the start for both of these games.
The Chicago defense on a whole has also been shaky and inconsistent. The defense let’s in far too many goals and that's especially a problem against Carolina. The Hurricanes in the last eight games have only scored less than four goals once and scored four in both games against Chicago.
Offense cannot be relied on too heavily for the ‘Hawks, and defensive leaders like Duncan Kieth need to step up. This series and the game against Detroit will end an important week for the BlackHawks.
The best outcome would put them in second place in the division with some breathing room ahead of the other teams, while losses could see playoff hopes quickly diminish. The most important thing is that Chicago bring enough motivation and discipline for all three games this week.
Final Score: Carolina 5, Chicago 3