Blackhawks hobble into matchup with Islanders

The Chicago Blackhawks will try to regroup from a slew of injuries when they host the New York Islanders on Friday night.

Both teams likely will feel refreshed after a three-day break between games, but Chicago will be forced to rely on its depth. The Blackhawks will take the ice for the first time since announcing injuries to forward Brandon Saad (right ankle) and defensemen Brent Seabrook (right shoulder, both hips) and Calvin de Haan (right shoulder).

Seabrook and de Haan will miss the rest of the season. Saad is expected to miss about three weeks.

It's also the Blackhawks' first game since an ugly 7-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils heading into the break.

"We should be embarrassed," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters after that game. "If we're going to make progress, you've got to give yourself a chance.

"Seems like we need to start over all the time. I've made the point in the games; we've had trouble stringing shifts together. Well, we have trouble stringing performances together. So you just can't build any momentum."

The Islanders also will look to create momentum after going winless in three of their previous four games. The past two losses have come by one goal -- a 6-5 shootout loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 21 and a 3-2 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 23.

New York still sits near the top of the Eastern Conference with 49 points in 35 games. That puts the Islanders on pace for 114 points, which would rank third in franchise history behind the 1981-82 team (118 points) and the 1978-79 team (116).

"I think if you look over it as a whole, the first half, you've got to like where we're at," Islanders forward Mathew Barzal said, according to Newsday. "We've had some good stretches of hockey. We've beaten some good teams lately but we've kind of given some points away that we should have gotten.

"At the end of the day, we're in a pretty good spot right now, and we've just got to get our minds right after Christmas to really push for a playoff spot."

Barzal leads the team with 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists) in 35 games. Fellow forward Brock Nelson is second on the scoring list with 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists), and three players are tied for third with 22 points apiece.

Chicago is led in scoring by forward Patrick Kane, who has 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 38 games. Jonathan Toews is next with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists), and Alex DeBrincat is third with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists).

The Blackhawks have platooned a pair of veteran goaltenders this season. They could start Robin Lehner (9-6-4, 2.86 goals-against average) or Corey Crawford (6-11-2, 3.20 GAA) coming out of the break.

Meanwhile, the Islanders also have used a time share between Semyon Varlamov (12-3-3, 2.47 GAA) and Thomas Greiss (11-6-0, 2.43 GAA).

This is the first of two meetings between the teams during the regular season.

--Field Level Media
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