After an on-and-off string of home games —and a forgetful trip to North Carolina — the Chicago Blackhawks will be hitting the road. The week’s itinerary opens with a dip south to Nashville to take on the Predators before heading west for a weekend back-to-back against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.
The Blackhawks will look to build some momentum after a five-goal offensive explosion against the Kings at the United Center during Sunday’s matinee. Once they move on from Nashville, the road gets easier as the Kings are in a similar situation as the Blackhawks, trying to find answers to the questions about what’s going to finally work.
Tuesday, Oct. 29 @ Predators
The trip to Nashville doesn’t make for easy start for the Blackhawks road trip, with the Preds sitting in second place in the Western Conference with a 7-3-1 record.
The Predators are coming off a 3-2 overtime road victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night. Juuse Saros earned the win in goal after dropping his prior three games in net and Roman Josi had a goal and two assists, including the helper on Ryan Ellis’ overtime game-winner.
Nashville earned the victory without the help of forwards Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg, who were out with lower-body injuries. The Predators’ offensive is a force to be dealt with, having found the net 45 times so far this season, setting a franchise record for most goals through 10 games. They currently rank third in the league behind the Washington Capitals (49) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (46).
Against the Kings, the Blackhawks didn’t allow many opportunities on the defensive end. When they did, Robin Lehner was up to the task, stopping 26 shots before allowing one to get behind him. It’ll take another strong showing on the defensive end to keep the Preds sharpshooters at bay.
PREDICTION: Predators 4, Blackhawks 2
Saturday, Nov. 2 @ Kings
The Blackhawks are coming off arguably their best performance of the season in their 5-1 win over the Kings this past weekend. That being said, their performance on the road in Carolina just a day before was one of their worst.
Granted, the Kings are one of the few teams below the Blackhawks in the league standings, so only so much can be taken away from the win. Through their first 12 games the Kings have shown little promise and enter the week with a just 4-8-0 record and are in the midst of a three-game losing streak which has them placed last in the Pacific Division.
Anze Kopitar leads the Kings offense with four goals and seven assists through 12 games while Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell have split time in net. Each have a pair of the Kings’ four wins, with Campbell suffering the loss to the Blackhawks on Sunday.
The Kings dropped back-to-back 5-1 games over the weekend, and will take on the Vancouver Canucks before welcoming the Blackhawks to town.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Kings 1
Sunday, Nov. 3 @ Ducks
When the Blackhawks swing over to Anaheim to take on the Ducks, the franchise will be taking the ice for their 2,000th game. The Ducks are 7-6-0 overall this season, and open their homestand tonight against the Winnipeg Jets and are sporting a 4-1-0 record at home this season.
After a 5-2 win Saturday over the Colorado Avalanche, the Ducks appeared to be ready to carry that momentum into their matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday. Ryan Getzlaf opened the scoring early in the first period to put the Ducks on top, but that’s where the trend ended, as the Knights wound up finishing with more than three times as many shots on goal as Anaheim (49-15) and held a 94-36 advantage in shot attempts to hand the Ducks a 5-2 road loss.
The Ducks’ power play is currently fifth-worst in the league, and are now 3-for-31 this season, which could prove to be an opportunity for the struggling Blackhawks penalty kill to benefit.
With a week-plus home stand ahead of them, watch for the Ducks to rebound from the loss and bring their A-game during this stretch of action, according to Adam Henrique.
“You never want to have these nights, but sometimes they happen,” Henrique told the OC Register. “The response is the key for the group. We’ve got to come out hard and be relentless on the puck, be tough to play against. I think we’ve done a good job at home of creating that identity in our building. That’s what we’re going to need against another tough opponent on Tuesday.”from ‘Ducks make no excuses after clunker of a loss to Golden Knights,’ OC Register, 10/28/2019
Ducks goaltender Josh Gibson is sitting with a 4-6 record on the year with a .923 SV% and 2.52 goals against average. The veteran has lost four of his last five starts including facing nearly 50 shots in Vegas against the Golden Knights. With three quality starts in his previous five games, Gibson has just one win to show for it
PREDICTION: Ducks 3, Blackhawks 1
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.