The Chicago Blackhawks seek their fourth straight victory when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night to open a consecutive set in Raleigh, NC.
Chicago is coming off two straight wins over the Detroit Red Wings, which followed a 3-2 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets last Saturday. The Blackhawks are 7-1-1 in their last nine games, a tremendous streak few outsiders would have predicted before the start of the season.
“We found our group,” said Blackhawks goalkeeper Kevin Lankinen. “We have found our identity. We know how we are supposed to play.”
Lankinen, a rookie goalkeeper from Finland, has been a big part of the Blackhawks’ identity. He started the season behind Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia on the depth chart, but quickly took over the starting job with his consistent performances.
In the first 12 starts of his career, Lankinen is 7-2-3 with an average of 2.29 goals against and a .931 save percentage. He has limited rival teams to two goals or less in eight of those 12 starts.
Subban (2-1-1, 2.65 GAA, .917 percent savings) has settled into the traditional backing role, while Delia (0-2-0, 5.00 GAA, .863 percent savings) has slipped to the third row.
Despite all of Chicago’s success, Carolina has played even better.
The Hurricanes have earned at least one point in 11 of 14 games to start the season. They are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, but the Hurricanes extended their scoring streak to four games.
Carolina has just three losses in regulation time, one of which was against Chicago on February 4. That was also part of a straight set, with the Hurricanes winning 4-3 in the penalty shootout on Feb. 2 earlier. falling short 6-4 the following night.
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour hopes to see his team play better Friday. He said Wednesday’s overtime loss to Florida was too sloppy.
“We just didn’t get to work, and (we let) the other team come back, and they are too talented to do that,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s the NHL. He’ll get what we have when he’s not ready to play every turn. It’s 60 minutes. There’s no getting around it. He’s not in the goalie.”
The goalkeeper was Alex Nedeljkovic, who fell to 1-1-1 with a GAA of 3.23 and a .886 save percentage in just his third start of the season. Nedeljkovic has had a few starts while Petr Mrazek is recovering from thumb surgery.
Minus Mrazek, James Reimer has received most of the networking. He is 7-1-0 with a 3.10 GAA and a .895 save percentage in eight games (seven starts).
Carolina forward Jordan Staal enters the contest on a four-goal streak in a row. Staal leads the team with 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 12 games this season.
Chicago’s leading scorer is Patrick Kane, who has 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists) in 18 games. His teammate Alex DeBrincat is second in the scorers list with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 14 games.
–Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.