News – USA – Lankinen begins as Blackhawks enter the crucial February phase before the March schedule gets discouraged


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Four games this week give the Blackhawks a chance to find their booth before the schedule gets significantly tougher

The Blackhawks will wrap up their 11-day, 6-game road trip through the Central Division this week with two games against the Blue Jackets, starting Tuesday at 6pm at the Nationwide Arena

For Columbus, it’s been a month’s roller coaster ride of endless drama both on the ice and in the locker room, and it has been more of a soap opera in the game lately, with the Blue Jackets swaying between flashes of skill and moments of disaster since beating the Blackhawks 6-5 on Friday, February 11 Columbus lost 3-2 to the Blackhawks, lost 7-3 to the Hurricanes and recovered briefly in a 3-0 win over the Predators, before finishing 4 on Saturday against the same Predators : 2 lost

In this last game, Elvis Merzlikins sustained an upper body injury that made him unable to play both games this week Joonas Korpisalo is likely to finish the net every night Korpisalo’s numbers (889 percent save, 346 goals against average are behind Merzlikins (917 SV%, 281 GAA), which is bad news for a team with a coach who has the lack of attention his team repeatedly criticized for the defensive end of the ice

The last two games against Nashville were particularly ugly for Columbus, especially from a possession point of view Columbus had just 3958 percent of attempts to shoot in the 5v5 win against Nashville then fell to 3229 in the next game. The expected target percentage fell from 4694 in the Victory on a weirdly low 2515 in defeat that didn’t stop the Blue Jackets from posting expected goal shares of 6244 and 6575 percent in the above two games against the Blackhawks, although Columbus is one of the teams with the worst possession in the league, they achieved a higher quality of odds against Chicago in each of these games

And that’s part of what makes this week’s games so important to the Blackhawks. As discussed recently on this website, despite the positive results, the team didn’t do well in the 5v5 win, and some notable younger players have shown signs of regression in the past few weeks. This week Chicago has two games against a mediocre Columbus team and then two more against a shuffling Detroit team at home after that, March schedule gets ugly:

That’s about as brutal for a stretch of 11 games as the NHL schedule can generate in this shortened season. Chicago’s prowess is being put to the test during this period, and any signs of improvement over the next four games will require a lot of optimism on this challenging section

Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, National Hockey League

News – USA – Lankinen begins as Blackhawks enter the pivotal February stage ahead of the daunting March schedule