Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Host Hurricanes After Holiday

By Mike Brennan

After the NHL Christmas break, the Chicago Blackhawks are back in action tonight in a non-conference matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes. The puck drops at 6 o’clock tonight on the west side of Chicago.

The Hurricanes are coming off a win last night against the New Jersey Devils at home. In that 3-1 win, Brett Pesce, former Blackhawk Joakim Nordstrom and the Hurricanes’ leading scorer, Justin Faulk, all had goals. With 80 goals on the season, 11 goals fewer than the league average, the Hurricanes are hardly an offensive force to be reckoned with, unlike the ’Hawks’ last opponent in the Dallas Stars.

On the Hurricanes’ defensive end, the ’Hawks will look to put up some offensive numbers as the Hurricanes have let up 100 goals on the season, nine more than the league average.

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Kris Versteeg will make his return to the United Center tonight with five goals and 13 assists on the Hurricanes’ top line. Nordstrom will also come back to his former home at the Madhouse on Madison.

The Blackhawks will look to shut down 23-year-old Justin Faulk at the blue line, as the defenseman has 12 goals and 15 assists on the season so far. He has helped the Hurricanes win four out of their last seven games, though they still have just 33 points out of a 14-16-5 record.

On the other side, the Blackhawks are coming off of an embarrassing shutout loss in Dallas on Tuesday. The Blackhawks should come out flying in this game as they were off yesterday with no practice.

Marian Hossa appears ready to return for the red sweaters tonight. He has been sidelined for the past couple games with an upper-body injury. According to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus, Hossa was on the top line this morning with previous linemates Teuvo Teravainen and Jonathan Toews. If Hossa isn’t able to go, Andrew Shaw likely will be on the top line, which is not the ideal situation for the ’Hawks. Hopefully Hossa is feeling game ready tonight so fans do not have to watch Shaw on the top line.

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The second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane remained the same this morning, as did the fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Phillip Danault and Ryan Garbutt. Should Hossa play, Shaw will return to the third line with Bryan Bickell and Dennis Rasmussen. Brandom Mashinter will sit in that situation.

For the Hurricanes, James Wisniewski and Nathan Gerbe are both out with lower-body injuries. On the other end, the ’Hawks have Marcus Kruger on the injury list.

Once again, the puck drops at 6 o’clock tonight at the United Center, and it should be a fun late-December matchup!