Coming off a 2-1 week that included back-to-back wins, the Chicago Blackhawks have busy stretch ahead of four games in six days to add some numbers to the points column.
The Vegas Golden Knights will visit the United Center ice on Tuesday, followed by a Thursday night rematch of the season opener in Prague with the Philadelphia Flyers. After a quick trip to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes for a Saturday matinee, the Hawks return to home ice on Sunday to host the Los Angeles Kings.
Tuesday, Oct. 22 vs. Golden Knights
The Golden Knights opened their week with a trip to Philadelphia to face the Flyers after a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Saturday night road game, when they shut down the Penguins offense to notch their fourth win in five games.
The Golden Knights are tied for ninth in scoring with 3.44 goals per game and tied for fifth in goals against, allowing 2.33 goals per contest this season. They are fifth in the league with a man advantage, converting on 30 percent of their chances, and they lead the league in penalty killing with a 94.3 success rate; they also lead the league with four shorthanded goals.
Keeping Mark Stone in check will be a tall task for the Blackhawks defense, as the Golden Knights winger has 13 points in 10 games, including 6 goals. He’s tallied a point in all but one game so far, with four multi-point games.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Golden Knights 2
Thursday, Oct. 24 vs. Flyers
The Flyers rebounded from a 4-1 thumping by the Dallas Stars over the weekend to thrash the Golden Knights in Monday’s contest, 6-2.
With the win, the Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak after entering the week tied for 24th in the league in scoring, averaging just 2.50 goals per game. Philadelphia is tied for 13th in goals against allowing three goals per game, and its 25% conversion rate on the power play ranks ninth overall.
In their last four games the Flyers have struggled, dropping all four by a 16-7 margin, despite a nearly 2.5-to-1 shots for ratio against the Stars.
The struggling Flyers offense had just 15 goals through the first six games but with nine starts heading into Monday’s contest, Vegas netminder Marc-Andre Fleury was given a night off. Oscar Dansk’s night in net resulted in a four-goal second period from the Flyers.
With Fleury likely to return to the net, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and the rest of the Hawks offensive unit will need to bring their A-game to the ice.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 2, Flyers 1
Saturday, Oct. 26 @ Hurricanes
The Hurricanes opened their 2019-20 season with five straight wins. They have since lost three of their last four, after suffering their first loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 12.
After three games in four nights in California, the Hurricanes returned home with a 6-3-0 record after dropping their final game out west 4-2 to the Anaheim Ducks.
Even after a less than stellar trip, the ‘Canes find themselves two points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals, and tied with the Penguins for second with 12 points.
Erik Haula leads the Hurricanes with seven goals through nine games, good for a tie for fourth in the league.
Haula and Dougie Hamilton have been carrying the offense, but Carolina is waiting for someone else to step up and find the net consistently. Sebasitan Aho only has a pair of goals, both empty-netters, and Brock McGinn and Nino Niederreiter have yet to score.
The Hurricanes offense could prove to be a challenge for the Blackhawks defense, which is still trying to find a mix that works to keep the pressure of Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner.
PREDICTION: Hurricanes 3, Blackhawks 1
Sunday, Oct. 27 vs. Kings
Over the weekend the Kings snapped a three-game skid dominating the Calgary Flames in a 4-1 victory at the Staples Center. After being outscored 10-2 in their prior three games, the win marked Jonathan Quick’s first win of the season, after stopping 23 shots. In was the Kings’ most complete and solid game of the season.
The Kings have a balanced scoring attack, led by Anze Kopitar who leads the team with nine points, including six assists. Dustin Brown, Ilya Kovalchuk and Drew Doughty match Kopitar with three goals apiece
The match up should favor the Blackhawks with the Kings struggling to find a mix that works for them this season. If the potent Hawks forwards show up in force, they should prove to be too much for LA defense to handle.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 5, Kings 3
Scott brings several years of local hockey coverage with the Kankakee Daily Journal to the Hockey Writers, along with coverage of NCAA Hockey, Softball, Basketball, and Soccer with HEROSports. He is also a regular contributor to FloSoftball and Coach & Athletic Director Magazine.