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NHL on NBCSN: Penguins vs. Blackhawks on Rivalry Night

Chicago Blackhawks v Pittsburgh Penguins

Chicago Blackhawks v Pittsburgh Penguins

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Chicago Blackhawks at the Consol Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight as part of a back-to-back set of games on NBCSN on Wednesday. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

After battering the Arizona Coyotes, the Chicago Blackhawks travel to Pittsburgh to face a Penguins team that must be a little battered following a violent loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Technically, both teams are on a back-to-back, yet the Blackhawks won 6-1 while the Penguins faced their cross-state rivals in a bitter overtime feud, so one almost feels inclined to give the edge to Chicago going in.

Another factor in pegging the Blackhawks as mild favorites: while Chicago’s been up and down in its own right, the Penguins have really been struggling lately.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Pittsburgh has lost three games in a row and five of seven. They only have four wins (4-6-3) since Dec. 22.

The Penguins hope to enter the All-Star break on a high note, then, as they’ll start a tough stretch afterward with a home game against the (currently) red-hot Winnipeg Jets and then face a road-heavy haul.

Things won’t be any easier in the likely event that Kris Letang won’t be able to play thanks to Zac Rinaldo’s controversial hit from Tuesday, either.

Technically, the Blackhawks begin a seven-game road trip tonight, although the All-Star break essentially boils it down to a six-game jaunt.

Regardless, they probably want to set a tone for that considering a tough array of California opponents followed by what could be a harrowing trio of games against hungry Central Division rivals.

Even with Letang out, there should be no shortage of star power on hand on Rivalry Night.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin may see linemates change due to injuries and other circumstances, yet they remain elite as ever. Thomas Greiss played last night, so expect Marc-Andre Fleury in net.

The Blackhawks are a in a similar boat as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane continue to lead a band of very talented players. Much like Fleury, Corey Crawford got last night off, so he should be fresh for this one.

All in all, these rare games between two model NHL franchises serve as delicious hockey treats. Savor this one on NBCSN tonight.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins