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Olympians abound as Blackhawks host Rangers

by Adam Kimelman

RANGERS (21-20-3) at BLACKHAWKS (29-7-9)


Last 10: New York 5-3-2; Chicago 6-0-4

Season series: It's the first of two games between the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks this season, with the rematch set for Feb. 27 in New York. The last time these teams played was March 9, 2012, when Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya scored 1:02 apart in the third period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead en route to a 4-3 Chicago win.

Big story: It will be a bit of an Olympic preview at United Center on Wednesday.

The Blackhawks will have 10 players headed to Sochi, tied for the most with the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues.

The Rangers will have seven players going to Russia.

Canada and the United States will be well-represented at the game. Chicago's Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, along with the Rangers' Rick Nash, will be teammates next month for Canada in Sochi. Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh of the Rangers, along with Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks will join forces for the U.S. in Sochi.

Team Scope:

Rangers: Daniel Carcillo, acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, could make his Rangers debut against the Blackhawks, the team he helped win the Stanley Cup with last season.

According to The (Bergen) Record, Carcillo split practice drills Tuesday on a line with Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore and J.T. Miller.

Coach Alain Vigneault would not comment on what his lineup would look like Wednesday.

Carcillo had one goal, one assist and 57 penalty minutes in 26 games with the Kings prior to being traded to the Rangers.

With the Blackhawks last season, Carcillo had two goals and one assist in 23 games and one assist in four Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Blackhawks: Chicago signed Nikolai Khabibulin in the summer as a veteran insurance policy behind Corey Crawford, but with the emergence of rookie Antti Raanta, the team feels its goaltending situation is in solid hands.

Raanta, a 24-year-old free agent signed out of the Finnish league during the summer, was pressed into duty when Khabibulin went out of the lineup with a groin injury in November. Now Khabibulin could miss the rest of the season following surgery Tuesday to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

In Khabibulin's absence Raanta is 11-1-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 16 games.

"He's been great for us," general manager Stan Bowman told the Chicago Sun-Times when asked about Raanta. "We signed him last summer hoping he would be able to do that, and you don't really know until they come over to North America how they're going to adjust to the different-sized rink. But it hasn't taken him very long. He looks really comfortable and certainly the guys play well in front of him. I think it's been a nice combination so far."

"Antti's done an amazing job for us," coach Joel Quenneville told the newspaper. "He took advantage of an opportunity here. He really helped solidify that position for us."

Who's hot: Nash is coming off his first multi-goal game; he scored twice on the power play for the Rangers on Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. … Sharp has three goals and two assists in the Blackhawks' past three games.

Injury report: Rangers forward Derek Dorsett is out with a broken leg. … The Blackhawks announced Khabibulin is expected to miss 4-5 months after his rotator cuff surgery.

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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