Chicago Blackhawks Visit Calgary Flames, Minus Johnny Gaudreau

The Chicago Blackhawks’ final Circus Trip rolls on tonight as Joel Quenneville‘s bunch visits the Calgary Flames

If you Chicago Blackhawks fans wanted an interesting Friday night game to witness, maybe to even show some of your friends how cool hockey is … this isn’t going to be the game for you. The Calgary Flames are terrible.

But hey, maybe the Blackhawks will light up the lowly flames, who they’ve gone 1-0-1 against already this season. The last result, earlier this month, saw the Blackhawks pull out a 5-1 triumph.

The big storyline coming into tonight’s tilt is Johnny Gaudreau missing time. The Flames’ star forward, easily the team’s best player, is out an estimated six weeks after undergoing surgery on a broken finger.

The Flames’ starpower and firepower are both severely toned down as a result. Which means the Blackhawks will probably give up a goal to some rando, but hey. These things happen.

Looking at the Flames

Calgary “boasts” a 7-10-1 record coming into this game, actually good for 11th of the 14 Western Conference teams. Yes, there are three squads (Colorado, Vancouver and Arizona) that are worse than these Flames.

Gaudreau actually wasn’t the team’s leading point earner before his injury, though his 11 points were second on team. The top honor goes to former Blackhawks Michael Frolik, who carries 12 points into tonight’s affair.

Things drop severely after those two, though, as Troy Brouwer, Micheal Ferland, Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and Mikael Backlund are all tied for third on the team with seven points. At least they’re spreading the wealth, I guess.

In net, things have been rough. Brian Elliott was brought over from St. Louis to steady the position for Calgary. Instead, he’s been heavily outplayed by Chad Johnson.

What about the Blackhawks?

Things are pretty much the same for Chicago despite a stinker of an outing Tuesday against Winnipeg. Here are how the lines look ahead of tonight’s game:

Richard PanikJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane

Artemi PanarinArtem AnisimovMarian Hossa

Dennis RasmussenMarcus KrugerRyan Hartman

Andrew DesjardinsNick SchmaltzVincent Hinostroza

It appears Hinostroza did suffer a concussion Tuesday on a brutal hit, but he has been cleared to return to tonight’s game. Corey Crawford will return to the crease after allowing four goals Tuesday.

Game time: 8 p.m.

TV: CSN Chicago

Radio: WGN 720-AM

Radio live stream: WGN Radio App

What about a prediction?

I’m going to say the Blackhawks win this one handily, bouncing back from their ugly performance Tuesday. They might not be totally engaged, as teams such as Calgary rarely get the Blackhawks fired up, but I’ll still say they pull out a 4-1 victory.

Don’t spend up all your hockey fandom energy tonight, either, as the Blackhawks have a quick turnaround tomorrow against Vancouver.

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