Preview/Game thread: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks

  

Chicago Blackhawks (4–6–3) vs. Vancouver Canucks (9–3–3)

7:30 p.m. CST
United Center
TV/Radio: NBCSN/WGN

Probable starters

Chicago — Corey Crawford (1–4–1, .892 save percentage, 3.74 goals against average)
Vancouver — Jacob Markstrom (5–2–3, .918 save percentage, 2.45 goals against average)

Team statistics

Power play
Chicago (11.9%, 28th)
Vancouver (21.9%, 11th)

Penalty kill
Chicago (80.4%, 19th)
Vancouver (88.7%, Third)

Shots for/against
Chicago (30.1, 22nd; 35.6, 30th)
Vancouver (34.0, Seventh30.3, 23rd)

Shooting percentage
Chicago (7.8%)
Vancouver (10.2%)

Face off percentage
Chicago (49.2%, 19th)
Vancouver (54.5%, Second)

Average height and weight
Chicago — 6-foot-1, 196 pounds
Vancouver — 6-foot-1, 199 pounds

Projected lines and pairings

Chicago Blackhawks

Brandon Saad — Jonathan Toews — Alexander Nylander
Alex DeBrincat — Dylan Strome — Patrick Kane
Zack Smith — David Kampf — Kirby Dach
Drake Caggiula — Ryan Carpenter — Andrew Shaw

Duncan Keith — Adam Boqvist
Calvin de Haan — Brent Seabrook
Olli Maatta — Erik Gustafsson

Vancouver Canucks

Tanner PearsonBo HorvatAdam Gaudette
J.T. MillerElias Pettersson —  Brock Boeser
Josh LeivoBrandon SutterJake Virtanen
Tim SchallerJay Beagle — Loui Eriksson

Alexander EdlerTyler Myers
Quinn HughesChris Tanev
Jordie Benn — Troy Stecher

Analysis

In the Blackhawks’ last contest, against the San Jose Sharks, the team showed all the hallmarks of the Jeremy Colliton era. The team played poorly on defense and did not produce enough offense to defeat an inferior opponent. It has been one year since Colliton took over the Blackhawks and the team has regressed in almost every category. In an offseason filled with genuine optimism, the regular season has produced nothing but angst toward Colliton and General Manager Stan Bowman.

In the loss to the Sharks, Chicago’s confidence seemed to erode. However, there were a few glimmers of hope. Robin Lehner continues to be the one ray of light during these dark times. Lehner notched his 100th career victory against the Sharks and is fourth Swedish goaltender to reach the 100-win milestone. Another positive was the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, which killed off three penalties against San Jose. Since Oct. 29, Blackhawks have killed off 16 of 17 penalties, good for 93.8% during that span.

In returning to the United Center, the Blackhawks look to improve upon their 1–4–1 home record. Their next opponent figures to pose a huge challenge in the resurgent Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have been a very good road team, going 5–3–1 on the road this season. Coming off their overtime loss to St. Louis, they look to get back to their winning ways in their second of back-to-back games and it is the first time all season Vancouver has played road games on consecutive nights. If the Blackhawks hope to stop the Canucks they need to slow down Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat. Pettersson has 14 points in his last seven games, while Horvat has 11 points in his last seven games.

Despite Lehner playing well of late in the Chicago crease, Colliton is opting for Corey Crawford between the pipes tonight against Vancouver. Also of note is Colliton’s decision to make Dominik Kubalik a healthy scratch for the first time in his career and inserting Zack Smith in Kubalik’s place.

Can the Blackhawks play up to the level of the red-hot Canucks or will this be a similar effort to the one we saw in San Jose?

Comment below in our live game thread tonight!

And, be sure to look for the internet’s most robust recap of the game by Mario Tirabassi right here on The-Rink.com.

Center Ice Forums Preview/Game thread: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks

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