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Wednesday Night Rivalry

5 Reasons to watch Rangers-Blackhawks

New York's winning streak, Kane's scoring highlight Wednesday Night Rivalry storylines

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

The New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks are headed in opposite directions as they prepare to face off at United Center in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).

The Rangers enter the game with six consecutive victories and are 9-7-2 after a 1-5-2 start. Chicago has lost three of its past four games and is 8-8-2 after a 7-5 loss at home to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday after leading by three goals in the first period.

Here are 5 reasons to tune in:

 

Red-hot Rangers

New York was 3-7-2 after a 5-4 loss at the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 28 and appeared to be headed for another loss when the Vegas Golden Knights took a 4-2 lead into the third period three nights later. But the Rangers scored four consecutive goals to earn a 6-4 win and have been unstoppable since then. After averaging less than three goals a game during their early-season struggle, the Rangers have scored 4.33 goals per game during their winning streak. They're playing faster and with more structure, and the results speak for themselves.

 

Kevin Shattenkirk

Shattenkirk's offensive production has fueled New York's winning streak. He has 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 18 games, and has at least one point in every game during the Rangers run. One of the reasons the Rangers wanted Shattenkirk was his skill running the power play, and he's delivering. Shattenkirk has nine power-play points (two goals, seven assists), tying him with Shayne Gostisbehere for the NHL lead among defensemen, and he's a big reason the Rangers are 8-for-19 (42.1 percent) on the power play in their past six games.

Video: CBJ@NYR: Shattenkirk wires in PPG from the point

 

Patrick Kane

Not surprisingly, Kane leads the Blackhawks in scoring; his 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) are six more than runners-up Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews. Kane is electric with the puck and has some of the best hands in the League; he had a goal and an assist in the loss to New Jersey. Kane, who turns 29 on Sunday, has three points (goal, two assists) in his past two games and with the Blackhawks struggling, they need him to put them on his back for a while. Don't be surprised if coach Joel Quenneville makes some changes in his line pairings and puts Kane, a right wing, on a line with DeBrincat on the left and Nick Schmaltz in the middle. The three worked well together in training camp and during the early part of the preseason.

 

Corey Crawford

Crawford is coming off one of the worst games of his NHL career; he was pulled after allowing six goals in two periods against the Devils. The six goals matched the most he's allowed in an NHL game; he surrendered six goals to the Vancouver Canucks (five on the power play) on Nov. 6, 2011. But even after his bad night against the Devils, he's still among the top five in goals-against average (2.21) and save percentage (.932). Expect Crawford to bounce back with a much better effort. He is 2-3-1 in six decisions against the Rangers despite a .921 save percentage.

Video: NJD@CHI: Crawford turns aside Hall on breakaway

 

Henrik Lundqvist

Lundqvist, like his teammates, struggled through the first weeks of the season. But he's reverted to the form that has made him one of the top goaltenders since entering the League in 2005. With some help from improved play by his teammates, who have done a much better job of letting him see the puck, Lundqvist is 6-0-0 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .912 save percentage during the winning streak. He has played well against the Blackhawks during his career, going 6-2-2 with a 2.19 GAA and .925 save percentage.

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