Vegas remains in the thick of the Pacific Division race with 21 points through their first 19 games but the Golden Knights come into Chicago on the heels of a three-game slide. The Golden Knights have just three wins in their last 10 games (3-4-3) and are returning home following an 0-2-1 Eastern Conference road trip. Meanwhile, Chicago has just 16 points through 17 games, which puts them in second-last place in the Central Division standings. Can the Golden Knights get back on the winning track versus the Blackhawks on Wednesday evening?
Blackhawks use schematic change to spark offenseChicago has been playing well since the calendar turned to the month of November, going 3-1-2 to the start of the month. They notched a point for the third straight game on Sunday, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 behind a monster performance from goaltender Robin Lehner. Patrick Kane had two goals and an assist while Lehner made 53 saves to help the Blackhawks stave off a late Maple Leafs rally and hold on for the win. Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach, and Brandon Saad also scored for Chicago, which has now earned at least a point in five of their last six games.
A simple schematic change has sparked the Blackhawks ahead of their upcoming four-game road trip. The Blackhawks had some success last season after allowing their weakside forward to move higher into the zone while playing defense. After the change sparked their offense and a late-season playoff push last year, Chicago has once again adopted the strategy following their slow start. The result: the Blackhawks have scored 12 goals over their last three games after scoring just 33 goals during their first 14 games of the year.
Patrick Kane 🏒🥅🚨— ✶ ✶Tony G✶ ✶ (@Certified_TonyG) November 11, 2019
Kane is so hot right now that even his passes are finding twine. Point streak extends to 6 games with his 7th goal of the season 🔥#CHIvsTOR #HockeyTwitter #NHL pic.twitter.com/CKsXizRYws
Lehner will patrol the crease for the Blackhawks on Wednesday in hopes of building on his most recent start. Chicago has suddenly notched points in three of Lehner’s last four starts and five of his six starts at home. The 28-year-old enters with a 4-3-2 overall record to go along with a 2.51 GAA and .934 save percentage in 10 games (nine starts) this year. He’s already faced the Golden Knights this season, stopping 33 of 34 shots in an overtime loss on Oct. 22.
Golden Knights trying to break out of recent slumpVegas lost their third straight game in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday evening, falling on the road to the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty scored for the Golden Knights, but Detroit scored twice in the final period, including Anthony Matha’s game-winner with just over 30 seconds remaining. Malcolm Subban stopped only 16 of the 19 shots that he faced on the night to take his fourth consecutive loss to open the season.
The Golden Knights are mired in a bit of a slump right now. They’ve lost five of their last six games while scoring just 14 total goals during that span. Despite ranking 13th in the league in goals per game, the offense has actually been generating a fair number of high-danger chances. Vegas comes in with the eighth-best expected goal rate in the NHL but the pressure hasn’t resulted in goals. They’ve been excellent on special teams though, sporting a power-play percentage of 21.2 percent and a penalty-killing percentage of 87.7 percent so far this season.
🎥 Gallant: In the past we could roll line after line after line. That's just not happening right now. pic.twitter.com/x9CvLmKV8C— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 12, 2019
Starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is scheduled to be back between the pipes for the Golden Knights on Wednesday. Fleury enters with a 9-4-1 overall record to go along with a 2.52 GAA and .920 save percentage in 15 games (14 starts). After a strong start to the season, the 34-year-old has been a bit more vulnerable as of late, allowing four goals or more in two of his last three starts. Fleury made three starts against the Blackhawks last season, winning all three with a 2.98 GAA and .890 save percentage.
- Blackhawks are 8-0 in their last 8 Wednesday games.
- Blackhawks are 4-1 in their last 5 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Blackhawks are 10-4 in their last 14 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Golden Knights are 1-4 in their last 5 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Golden Knights are 1-5 in their last 6 overall.
- Golden Knights are 1-6 in their last 7 vs. Central.