Rangers are Blackhawks' first opponent post Olympics
The Blackhawks (35-11-14) regular NHL season starts back with a game against the Rangers (32-24-), in New York. The NHL season is just restarting after the Olympic break, during which 6 Blackhawks players took medals: Gold for Jonathn Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp, and Silver for Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger. The Rangers also have medaled athletes: Gold for Rick Nash, and Silver for goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and forward Carl Hagelin.
Both teams have stayed healthy through the first part of the season, and the Olympic break. On the Rangers’ injured reserve list is only Derek Dorsett, who has been replaced on the lineup by Daniel Carcillo, an ex-Blackhawks. The only player on IR for the Blackhawks is Nikolai Khabibulin, and rookie goaltender Antti Raanta has been solid in net as a replacement.
Star forward Patrick Kane has not had the best Olympic tournament with the USA, with only 4 assists to his name throughout the 10 days, and is looking to get back to producing more for Chicago. While the Slovakian national team struggled in the Olympics, both Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus have kept fit, even if the quarterfinals loss was disappointing.
While the Rangers struggled at the beginning of the regular season, they have found their stride and have a solid record of wins during the first half of the season. The Blackhawks have had issues with overtime and have only won one game in the shootout this season. They also had problems with their penalty kill, but it has improved recently. The Rangers having a league top 10 power play, hopefully the Hawks’ penalty kill will stay strong.
It’ll be interesting to see the team get back together after the Olympic break and how new addition Peter Regin will fit in with the lineup on the stretch to the playoffs.
It’s expected that Henrik Lundqvist will be in net for the Rangers, while Corey Crawford will backstop the Blackhawks.
Game time is 7.00 p.m. ET and can be seen live on CSN-CH, NHL-US, and MSG.