NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Wednesday night. In the early game, the Chicago Blackhawks host the Philadelphia Flyers at 8:00 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.
Goals and victories have been a little tough to come by for the Blackhawks lately. They closed out the month of October with a three-game losing skid and only managed to win one (against the Coyotes) of their last six contests.
During that stretch, the ‘Haw’s managed to score more than twice in two games (once against Arizona, once against Colorado). One of the reasons they haven’t been able to fill the net is because their power play has cashed in on just one of their last 21 attempts.
“We got to stay confident in here,” winger Patrick Kane said, per the Chicago Tribune. “We’re 5-5-2 right now — obviously not the start we wanted, but we still have a lot of good players and a good team. Let’s not push the panic button just yet.”
The sluggish start to the year isn’t totally surprising considering the amount of players Chicago traded away or lost during the off-season. Still, it’s early enough for them to fix whatever it is that’s plaguing them.
As for the Flyers, they’ll head into tonight’s game having dropped three of their last four games, including a 4-3 overtime decision to the struggling Coyotes on Monday night.
“As a group, we were too far below the bar,” head coach Dave Hakstol said after the loss to Arizona, per NBC Sports Philly. “I think we had eight shot attempts in the first period. In our own end, we weren’t quick and hard defending through the entire period. I’m not taking anything away from our opponent, they played hard. We didn’t start the hockey game where we wanted to be and where we needed to be.”
Injuries have been a problem with Philadelphia so far this season, as they’ve been without second overall pick Nolan Patrick, Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew MacDonald.
The Flyers will have an interesting test this week. After tonight’s game in Chicago they’ll head to St. Louis to take on the Blues tomorrow night.
With their defense a little depleted, it’ll be interesting to see how they stack up against those two opponents. This is a weird part of the schedule for Philadelphia. Monday’s game against Arizona was the first of 10 consecutive games against Western Conference opponents.
In the late game, the San Jose Sharks host the Nashville Predators at 10:30 p.m. ET. To stream that game live, click here.
The Sharks are off to a decent start in 2017-18, but it’s nothing to write home about. They have a 6-5-0 record overall with a 3-3-0 showing at home.
They’ll have an opportunity to really take off at the Shark Tank this month, as their next four games and seven of their next eight will all be on home ice.
San Jose is coming off a big win over the Maple Leafs on Monday. Before that home date, they went a respectable 3-2-0 on an East Coast road trip that saw them travel to New Jersey, Brooklyn, New York, Boston and Buffalo.
Logan Couture has been a huge positive for the Sharks this season. He’s already up to eight goals and 12 points in 11 contests. But they sure could use more from defenseman Brent Burns, who has no goals this season, and forward Joe Pavelski, who has three goals and three assists in 11 games.
The Predators are about to embark on a difficult four-game road trip that will see them play in San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Columbus.
If they want to pile up wins in California and Ohio, they’ll need to start scoring with a little more regularity. Of the 31 teams in the NHL, only Edmonton has scored less than goals than Nashville’s 27 this season.
“I don’t think we’re shooting the puck enough,” forward Scott Hartnell said, per the team’s website. “When we shoot the puck, it seems like good things happen. You watch the goals scored around the League every night, it’s not always highlight-reel goals. They’re tips, screens, rebounds, goalies let in soft ones every now and again, so for us it’s simplifying our game, getting pucks to the net and getting bodies there. That’s one thing that’s been lacking I think, especially 5-on-5.”
Fun fact: Eight of their 27 goals (just under 30 percent) have been scored by winger Filip Forsberg.
Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.