Another thrilling game against the Carolina Hurricanes awaits tonight for the Chicago Blackhawks
There’s a bit of sarcasm up there. The Chicago Blackhawks’ games against the Carolina Hurricanes have been anything but thrilling of late. The Blackhawks, in fact, rarely seem to show up for them as a full team over the past couple seasons.
They have another chance tonight to show they actually care about playing the Hurricanes, as the Eastern Conference team comes to the United Center for the second and final game of the regular season between these squads.
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Carolina hosted Chicago a week ago in the Blackhawks’ last game of 2016, and the Hurricanes pulled out a 3-2 win that didn’t seem that close. Scott Darling started that game in net for the Blackhawks, and he’ll start again tonight on the second half of a back-to-back (a similar situation to when the other Blackhawks-Hurricanes game happened last Friday).
Darling was a lot better than his final statline suggested (.893 save percentage), and one imagines he’ll have to be really good again tonight with the Blackhawks needing overtime to put away Buffalo last night.
Carolina, meanwhile, is coming off a back-to-back scenario as well. The Hurricanes did the nice favor of defeating the St. Louis Blues last night (4-2), but the team is four points out of a playoff spot right now.
What to expect tonight
The Blackhawks might be coming off a win, but they’re also coming off a pair of roster decisions this morning. Forward Spencer Abbott and defenseman Gustav Forsling were sent to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.
Abbott made his NHL debut last night and didn’t do a whole lot, while the Blackhawks “want (Forsling) playing,” according to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. So the Blackhawks are rolling with a 21-man roster tonight.
Another known change for the Blackhawks heading into this game in Vincent Hinostroza lining up with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. That left win spot was handled by Abbott last night, but he didn’t take every shift with the two starts.
The Blackhawks had a morning skate today, but that’s pretty much all we know about the home team heading into this game (plus Darling starting, as was mentioned above).
Rattie was picked up off waivers from the Blues earlier this week and immediately jumped into top-line duty. Faulk, meanwhile, is back from injury — he missed last Friday’s game against Chicago.
Michael Leighton, a former Blackhawk and IceHog, might get the start in net tonight, as Cam Ward started last night. So that would add to the group of former Blackhawks who will return to the UC — Teravainen, Nordstrom and Stalberg. Klas Dahlbeck and Bryan Bickell won’t play due to injury/illness.
Elias Lindholm is also injured for Carolina. He scored one of the Hurricanes’ three goals in the previous meeting between these teams.
Prediction: The Blackhawks need to prove they actually care about playing and beating the Hurricanes before I’m picking them to win. The last three games against Carolina (at least) have been total duds for Chicago outside the net.
I’ll say the Hurricanes win 2-1. Although with Leighton potentially in net and the Blackhawks scoring just four times on 43 shots last night, there’s a chance the Blackhawks have an explosive offensive show. Again, though, I’m taking Carolina until the Blackhawks can show they care against this opponent.