The Christmas break could not come at a better time for the Chicago Blackhawks, who followed a five-game winning streak by dropping two in a row to kick off a season-high six-game road trip. Chicago looks to get back on track during the western Canada portion of its trek with a visit to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
The Blackhawks received a proverbial lump of coal in their stockings with the news that netminder Corey Crawford was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Crawford, who was yanked in the first period of Saturday’s 4-1 loss at New Jersey, will miss at least the next three games. Vancouver also has been hit hard by injuries, losing productive forwards Sven Baertschi and Bo Horvat earlier in December for at least a month each. The Canucks are reeling with losses in four straight and eight of their last nine (1-7-1), including five of their last six games at home.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBCSN Chicago, Sportsnet 360, SN East, SN One, SN Pacific (Vancouver)
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (17-13-5): Crawford, who is third in the NHL in save percentage (.929) and fourth in goals-against average (2.27) showed his importance to the club when he missed the first three games this month and Chicago dropped all three. Upon his return, Crawford backstopped the Blackhawks to a five-give winning streak while surrendering a scant seven goals. Anton Forsberg (1-4-3, 3.13 GAA), whose lone win was Nov. 11 at Carolina, is expected to start the next three games.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (15-17-5): Despite the loss of linemates Baertschi and Horvat to long-term injuries, Brock Boeser continues to carry Vancouver’s offense, scoring in three straight games and seven of the last nine to reach 20 on the season. The team’s first-round draft pick in 2015, Boeser leads all NHL rookies in goals and averages a point per game. “It means a lot, but it’s obviously a lot better if we’re getting the results we want,” Boeser told reporters. “It’s a tough stretch right now.”
1. Blackhawks F Patrick Kane has five goals in his last five games, including career No. 300 in Saturday’s loss.
2. Vancouver has surrendered nine power-play goals in the past seven games.
3. Chicago recalled G Jeff Glass and F David Kampf from Rockford of the American Hockey League.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Canucks 2