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Wednesday Night Hockey

'Wednesday Night Hockey': 5 Storylines

Blackhawks continue playoff push against Red Wings, Golden Knights host surging Bruins

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

Three of the NHL's Original Six teams and its newest one will be part of a "Wednesday Night Hockey" doubleheader.

In the first game, the Chicago Blackhawks (25-26-9) will continue their push for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they visit the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN). The Blackhawks dropped to the bottom of the NHL standings last month but are 8-2-0 in their past 10 games, including an 8-7 win against the Ottawa Senators on Monday, to get within one point of the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Chicago is 5-2-0 in its past seven games against Detroit (23-29-8), including a 5-2 win at United Center on Feb. 10.

The Boston Bruins, one of the hottest teams in the NHL, will try for their seventh straight win when they play the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in the second game (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS). The Bruins (35-17-8) swept a three-game swing through California for the first time ever, including a 6-5 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks on Monday, and are second in the Atlantic Division. The Golden Knights (32-25-4) are third in the Pacific Division despite losing four of their past five games.

Here are 5 storylines to watch:


Kane keeps rolling

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane will try to extend two streaks: he has at least one point in his past 18 games (40 points; 14 goals, 26 assists) and at least one assist in 17 straight. His point streak is the longest in the NHL this season, and he'll try to tie Adam Oates for the second-longest assist streak in NHL history. Kane (90 points; 36 goals, 54 assists) is second in scoring to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov (99 points; 29 goals, 70 assists) and a major reason the Blackhawks have climbed back into the playoff race after bottoming out early last month.


Offense carrying Blackhawks

Kane isn't only member of the Blackhawks who's been hot. Second-year forward Alex DeBrincat had a hat trick and two assists in the win against Ottawa and is second to Kane with 32 goals. Center Jonathan Toews has 28 goals, the most he's had in a season since 2015-16, and 60 points, his best total since 2014-15. Center Dylan Strome, acquired in a trade from the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 25, has 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 36 games with the Blackhawks. Chicago's problems have come on defense. The Blackhawks have allowed 222 goals, most in the NHL, including 20 in their past four games.

Video: OTT@CHI: DeBrincat paces Blackhawks with hat trick


Larkin among positives in Red Wings' rebuild

Detroit will likely miss the playoffs for the third straight season, something that hasn't happened since it failed to qualify five times in a row from 1978-79 through 1982-83. That doesn't mean there haven't been positives this season. Perhaps the biggest has been a breakout season by center Dylan Larkin, who has an NHL career high 24 goals and 55 points in 59 games, putting him on pace to exceed 70 for the first time in four NHL seasons. Larkin and forward Andreas Athanasiou, who has NHL career highs in goals (20) and points (37), give Detroit two of the fastest skaters in the NHL. Goalie Jimmy Howard is 17-16-5 with a 2.80 goals-against average and .913 save percentage and gives the Red Wings a chance to win every time he plays.


Bruins hitting on all cylinders

The Bruins are doing everything right. They've won six in a row, are 8-0-2 in their past 10 games and look like a team no one wants to face at playoff time. Not even surrendering a three-goal lead on the road can stop them. Boston blew a 3-0 advantage against the Sharks but tied the game late in the third period and won in overtime. Goalie Tuukka Rask (20-8-4, 2.45 GAA, .918 save percentage) is 12-0-2 in his past 14 games and backup Jaroslav Halak, who will start against Vegas, has been even better (15-9-4, 2.35 GAA, .923 save percentage). The offense is clicking even without 31-goal scorer David Pastrnak, who's sidelined with a thumb injury. The only problem for the Bruins is they're all but certain to finish no better than second in the Atlantic Division. They're 18 points behind the NHL-leading Lightning, who have led the division for most of the season.

Video: BOS@SJS: Rask absorbs Hertl's wrist shot in OT


Golden Knights hitting some potholes in second season

No expansion team in any sport enjoyed an inaugural season like the Golden Knights, who set NHL records for wins (51) and points (109) by a first-year team, then won three playoff series before losing the Stanley Cup Final to the Washington Capitals. Their second season hasn't gone nearly as well. Vegas got hot after a slow start but is 3-8-0 since a 7-3 home win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 19. Marc-Andre Fleury leads all goalies with 29 wins, but he's started an NHL high 51 games and looks like he's showing the effects of all that work. Forward William Karlsson, a 43-goal scorer last season, has 18 in 61 games, and no one has reached 20 goals or 45 points. The Golden Knights are in good shape to make the playoffs again, but the first-year magic is missing.

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