The New York Rangers will put their six-game winning streak on the line Wednesday when they hit the road to take on the Chicago Blackhawks, who have dropped three of their last four games.
This will be the first meeting this season between the pair of Original Six teams. Below is a full preview of the highly anticipated clash.
When: Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. ET
Where: United Center, Chicago
Streaming: NBC Sports Live
The Blackhawks and Rangers split their two games a year ago. New York won 1-0 in overtime on Dec. 9, 2016, and Chicago earned a 2-1 victory four days later.
This season, the Rangers are averaging 3.33 goals per game, which ranks seventh in the league. That doesn't present a favorable matchup for the Blackhawks, who surrendered three goals in an overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 11 and then allowed seven goals to the New Jersey Devils the following day.
Corey Crawford's 2.21 goals-against average is fourth-best in the NHL, so one could write off the last two games as an aberration for the 32-year-old. Patrick Kane thought the blame for Sunday's seven-goal blitz by the Devils deserved to be shouldered by the entire team.
"He has played amazing for us," Kane said of Crawford, per the Chicago Tribune's Paul Skrbina. "I don't know if any of the goals are really his fault tonight. Probably just a lot of breakdowns defensively. We can help him out a little bit better."
The fact the Blackhawks scored nine goals last weekend did provide a positive for the team. Before beating the Hurricanes, Chicago had nine goals in its previous five games combined.
Despite their winning streak, the Rangers are the team with bigger issues between the pipes.
Henrik Lundqvist's 2.92 goals-against average is the worst of his career, and the same goes for his .905 save percentage. New York has also been a complete mess defensively away from Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are allowing 4.20 goals per game on the road. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins are giving up more away goals (4.31) per game.
The Rangers spent big in the offseason to bolster their defense. In addition to signing Kevin Shattenkirk for $26.6 million over four years, they gave Brendan Smith a four-year $17.4 million extension.
While Shattenkirk has largely delivered, Smith has yet to appear in a game this month. The New York Post's Larry Brooks argued the Rangers should consider making Smith available on the trade market if he continues to be a healthy scratch.
During their winning streak, the Rangers have allowed two or fewer goals in three games. While that doesn't sound too impressive, opponents scored two or fewer goals just four times in New York's first 12 games of the season.
Going into Chicago and quieting the Blackhawks attack would be a great way for the Rangers to show they're turning a corner defensively.