The Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers are meeting in New York just four days after their last matchup. In their first meeting, The Rangers narrowly edged the Blackhawks in a game that truly highlighted both team’s backup goaltenders. At the end of the game, Rangers’ goalie and former Blackhawks netminder Antti Raanta made 26 saves and recorded the shutout against his former club. Scott Darling, however, also reiterated the fact that he can shine when needed and stopped all 36 shots in regulation before Rangers’ defenseman Nick Holden found twine just 55 seconds into the overtime frame.
The biggest storyline heading into the game wasn’t necessarily centered around the two goalies, however. While the narrative certainly mentioned that Raanta was earning time due to his recent success in the crease, Darling starting in net due to Corey Crawford’s injury was much closer to the real storyline. Heading into the game, the Blackhawks were without Crawford, Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook. The Rangers, however, were without Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich due to injury.
Chicago has received some good news recently, however, as both Toews and Seabrook made the trip with the team to New York. They are both expected to play in the matchup which will mark the first time Toews has been in the lineup since suffering an injury on Nov. 23 in San Jose, and Seabrook since Dec. 6 against the Arizona Coyotes. Both players will be a welcome addition to a Blackhawks team that sorely needs the offensive help despite scoring three goals against the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
Chicago Blackhawks at New York Rangers
Madison Square Garden – 6:00 p.m. CT
Broadcast channels – NBCSN, TVAS, SN, MSG 2, CSN-CH
2016-17 Season Series
December 9 – Rangers 1 – Blackhawks 0
Chicago Blackhawks – 18-8-4 – 40 Points
Road Record: 6-6-1
Hot Players: Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane, Scott Darling
Key Injuries: Corey Crawford
Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger -Richard Panik
Andrew Desjardins-Vinnie Hinostroza-Tyler Motte
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Gustav Forsling-Brent Seabrook
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Brian Campbell
New York Rangers – 20-9-1 – 41 Points
Hot Players: Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, Antti Raanta
Key Injuries: Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich, Ryan McDonagh
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Michael Grabner-Kevin Hayes-J.T. Miller
Marek Hrivik-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast
Jimmy Vesey-Brandon Pirri-Nicklas Jensen
Brady Skjei-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Nick Holden
Adam Clendening-Kevin Klein
1)The Blackhawks excel at home, holding a 12-2-3 record at the United Center. On the road, however, they’ve failed to establish the same kind of dominance and have compiled a record of just 6-6-1. Hopefully, Chicago can buck this trend as they take on the Rangers in New York.
2)In contrast to the Blackhawks, New York has done well at home, as well as on the road. The Rangers are 9-5-0 on the road this year – including their most recent victory against the Blackhawks in Chicago – and hold an 11-4-1 record at home.
3)In their last game on Dec. 11, the Rangers beat their division rivals the New Jersey Devils by a score of 5-0. The Blackhawks are also coming off of a win, however, as they beat their own division rivals in the Dallas Stars by a score of 3-1 on Dec. 11.
4)Toews and Seabrook are returning to the Blackhawks lineup which figures to give the team a big boost. This is key considering Chicago just dropped a 1-0 game to the Rangers a few days ago.
5)Despite missing their captain, the Blackhawks have earned 14 of a possible 18 points without Toews in the lineup this season. With Toews back into the lineup, the team will look continue on that pace with more offensive consistency.
6)Ryan McDonagh has been announced as a late scratch due to flu-like symptoms. Adam Clendening is likely going to fill in for the Rangers as their captain rests up.
While the Rangers narrowly beat out the Blackhawks in their most recent meeting, Chicago will look to write an alternate ending in their second matchup. Goalies were the story following the last game, and while the Blackhawks would love for Darling to shine for them once again as he has all season, they would also certainly love a boost from their offense right out of the gate to set the tone for the game. Establishing zone time will be key for the Blackhawks as they look to remain atop the Western Conference standings and with Toews and Seabrook back in, that looks entirely possible.