Blackhawks

Blackhawks prep for Rangers without Brent Seabrook

Blackhawks prep for Rangers without Brent Seabrook

The Blackhawks broke out of their scoring slump against one of the league’s worst teams on Tuesday. Now they’ll face one of the best.

Scott Darling will start but Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook will be out when the Blackhawks face the New York Rangers on Friday night at the United Center. Coach Joel Quenneville was hoping at least Toews would skate on Friday but he didn’t. Toews and Seabrook could skate on Saturday but until they do, Quenneville is hesitant to say when they’ll return to game action.

Seabrook will be missing just his third regular-season game since 2012-13. Duncan Keith joked that Seabrook’s absence has meant a quieter locker room — “we’ve gotta talk a little more to get some noise going in here,” he said. But there’s no doubt the Blackhawks will miss Seabrook on the ice.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“On top of everything he brings off the ice for us he’s been such a durable, important player for this team, this organization. When he’s not out there it’s a weird feeling,” Keith said. “We have to do as best we can to play good hockey and try to fill a huge void you can’t really replace.”Michal Kempny appears to be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Quenneville was asked what Kempny needs to improve upon.

“I just think that consistency without the puck and how he defends in his own end is probably the area that there’s growth there in his game. But I still think our defense is pretty good and we’ve got some tough decisions on a game to game basis. He adds one more guy we feel can play,” Quenneville said. “But I think the depth, that’s a strength, and sometimes that’s part of the decision.”

The Rangers, who have 37 points this season, are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. While the Rangers got off to a hot start, winning 13 of their first 17 games, they’ve come down to earth lately (5-4-1 in their last 10). Like the Blackhawks, the Rangers have had their injury issues. Rick Nash (groin) and Jimmy Vesey (upper body) are the latest injuries. Vesey was listed as day-to-day; his status for tonight’s game is not yet known.

Broadcast information

Time: 7:30 p.m.

TV: CSN

Live Stream: CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports app

Blackhawks lines

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger -Marian Hossa

Tyler Motte-Dennis Rasmussen-Richard Panik

Andrew Desjardins-Vinnie Hinostroza-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Gustav Forsling-Michal Rozsival

Goaltender

Scott Darling

Injuries 

Jonathan Toews (back), Brent Seabrook (upper body), Corey Crawford (appendix)

Rangers lines (via New York Daily News)

Michael Grabner-Kevin Hayes-J.T. Miller

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Marek Hrivik-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast

Nicklas Jensen-Josh Jooris-Brandon Pirri

Defensive pairs

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Nick Holden

Brady Skjei-Kevin Klein

Goaltender

Antti Raanta

Injuries

Jimmy Vesey (upper body), Rick Nash (groin), Matt Puempel (concussion), Mika Zibanejad (broken fibula), Pavel Buchnevich (back)

'Road to the NHL Winter Classic' docuseries starts back on Dec. 19

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USA TODAY

'Road to the NHL Winter Classic' docuseries starts back on Dec. 19

The Road To The NHL Winter Classic™ docuseries will return to airwaves on December 19.

This year's edition will take a closer look at the Boston Bruins and the Blackhawks as they gear up for the 2019 Bridgestone Winter Classic that will take place at Notre Dame Stadium. 

This year marks the fourth time Chicago has been a part of the NHL Winter Classic and the third overall appearance for the Bruins.

The Road To The NHL Winter Classic will be a limited series and will premiere on Wednesday, December 19 on NBCSN at 10:30 CST after the conclusion of the Penguins-Capitals game. 

The limited series will finish up on January 6, with a one-hour finale episode on NBCSN. Full details on where you can watch can be found here.

The 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will take place in South Bend, Ind. on New Year's Day, at 12pm CST on NBC. 

After stint in Rockford, Blackhawks hoping Dylan Sikura is here to stay

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USA TODAY

After stint in Rockford, Blackhawks hoping Dylan Sikura is here to stay

Dylan Sikura came into the 2018-19 season with relatively high expectations. He was slotted in to play a top-six role in everyone's minds going into training camp, but as camp went on, started to get jumped on the depth chart and it was apparent that he could benefit from a stint in Rockford. So that's where he began the year.

It was a little hard to swallow for the Blackhawks, who lost another Opening Night top-nine forward after Vinnie Hinostroza was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason to clear Marian Hossa's contract off the books. It may have been a bit of a wake-up call for Sikura, who realized the transition from college hockey to the NHL wouldn't be easy.

But he took a positive attitude to Rockford after shaking off the initial shock, and that's when the development really starts.

"I'm in a lot better spot," Sikura said. "The adjustments to the pro hockey level is pretty tough and I kind of found out the hard way. But I'm going to use the experience from two years ago when I was up here and obviously the time down in Rockford and hopefully have a better jump start here.

"For me it was important to go down there with a positive mindset. Some guys go down there and they're not too happy about it. But I think it's something that's going to benefit me in the long run. I got a lot from it, improved my game, just getting adjusted to this level and hopefully it will show here."

Jeremy Colliton coached Sikura for the first month of the season when he was the IceHogs head coach. He knows what he brings to the table and what kind of progression he's been making. Colliton felt it was time to reward Sikura with a call-up after leading the team in goals (9), points (18) and shots on goal (90).

"He has played better and that’s important to reward guys when they show a progression," Colliton said. "He’s been more active away from the puck. He’s a little heavier stick, heavier in battles, maybe more confidence, too. He’s made more plays, pucks have gone in the net for him. It’s always nice as a skill player to see them go in."

Part of the reason Sikura is finally up with the Blackhawks is that he's earned a look. Another might be because of the Blackhawks' desperate need for depth scoring. It's probably a combination of both.

Sikura made his season debut on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins and kept it simple. He had one shot on goal and two takeaways in 9:33 of ice time, but noticeably skated with more confidence and appeared to be more comfortable. That's a positive step.

But the one thing both sides are hoping for is that Sikura seizes the opportunity and stays here for good because the Blackhawks need to start patching up the holes, not creating more.

"Obviously there's times down there when you question yourself and you question your play or when you're going to come up and stuff like that," Sikura said. "But I think it's important to just leave that behind. You got to know you're here for a reason and when you're called you got to be able to step up to the plate."

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