When the Chicago Blackhawks take to the ice tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes, they do so as one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League for the month of November. Through their nine games this month, they have tallied 14 points, picked up six wins scoring 36 goals — the most in the NHL since the start of the month.
With their 4-1 win on Sunday over the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks extended their winning streak to four. Kirby Dach scored a pair of goals while Corey Crawford stopped 34 of 35 shots from the Sabres offense to nab the win in net. Patrick Kane also scored on a third period shot, extending his current point streak to nine games (8G, 9A).
Dach is now gaining confidence and getting comfortable on professional ice, and it’s showing on the offensive end.
“I’m starting to play good,” Dach said. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and the team is playing good so I think that kind of helps out with individual success. When your team is going the right way and you’re winning games and scoring goals and your top players are producing — not saying I’m a top player or anything — but it helps a lot when everybody is going and we’re scoring.”
In his previous seven games, Dach had managed only one point. He now has four goals and two assists during a four-game run and his two goals in a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights placed him with Kane and Eddie Olczyk as the only 18-year-olds in franchise history with multi-goal games. His 9 points in 14 games this season, a 0.64 points-per-game average, ranks fifth among NHL rookies.
The Blackhawks welcome the Hurricanes to the United Center tonight, and then the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday before heading to Dallas to take on the Stars for a Saturday evening matchup.
Can they keep the momentum going?
Tuesday, Nov. 19 vs. Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes enter the week sitting in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 25 points and a 12-7-1 record, after topping the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in their second-straight overtime victory.
The Canes are led by Dougie Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov in scoring, both with 9 goals and 13 assists through their 20 games this season. Former Blackhawk Teuvo Teravainen has 5 goals and 14 assists on the year, and the Hawks will need to keep the trio in check if they hope to stay on top against netminder Petr Mrazek. The Hurricanes goalie is 9-3-1 on the season with a 2.62 goals against average (GAA).
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Hurricanes 2
Thursday, Nov. 21 vs. Lightning
Entering their Tuesday night matchup with the St. Louis Blues, the Tampa Bay Lightning are 9-6-2 on the season and sit in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference in 11th place, with 20 points.
Tampa Bay is coming off a 4-3 weekend loss to the Winnipeg Jets that saw Lightning goals from Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli. Despite the loss, the Lightning outshot the Jets 34 to 27 and also out hit Winnipeg 30 to 13. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had 23 saves on 26 shots and dropped his season record to 7-5.
If the Blackhawks can keep their momentum through Tuesday’s game with the Hurricanes, they should be able to keep the Lightning offense at bay and find the net against an average defense and goaltender.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Lightning 3
Saturday, Nov. 23 @ Stars
After a 5-4 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers, the Dallas Stars are now 11-8-2 on the season, putting them in fourth place in the Central Division. With goals from Jason Dickinson, Miro Heiskanen, Blake Comeau, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn against the Oilers, the Stars will present a challenge to the Blackhawks defense with scoring threats running down their bench.
Roope Hintz, while scoreless against the Oilers, leads the Stars in goals with nine on the season, including a power play tally. Seguin leads Dallas in points with 16, and in assists with 11.
In goal, Ben Bishop has had a very up and down season. Bishop was pulled after surrendering 3 goals on 15 shots against the Oilers, and is currently 6-5-1 with a GAA of 2.29. Backup goalie Anton Khudobin is 5-3-1 with a 2.31 GAA.
If the recent explosion of Blackhawks offense can continue, the Stars netminders could be in for a long night on their home ice Saturday night.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 5, Stars 2
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.