Wednesday, January 08, 2014
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Preview: Rangers at Blackhawks

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[January 08, 2014]  The Chicago Blackhawks have a roster dotted with Olympians, one reason why the team will carry a season-high 10-game point streak into Wednesday's home matchup against the New York Rangers. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and defenseman Duncan Keith were selected to represent Team Canada on Tuesday, pushing the number of Olympians to 10 for Chicago. The Blackhawks have lost two of their last three contests but haven't tasted defeat in regulation since Dec. 14 in Toronto.

New York will have seven players competing in Sochi, with forward Rich Nash the lone selection for Team Canada. The Rangers continue to struggle with consistency, following up a thorough 7-1 triumph at Toronto on Saturday in the finale of a five-game road trip with a 4-3 shootout loss to visiting Columbus two days later. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who is having the worst season of his stellar career, was named to Sweden's Olympic team along with forward Carl Hagelin.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN

ABOUT THE RANGERS (21-20-3): Nash, coming off his first two-goal performance of the season (both on the power play) on Monday against the team that traded him to New York, called it a "pretty cool accomplishment" to be appearing in his third Olympic Games. Still, Nash said the immediate priority is to rectify things with the Rangers, pointing to the need to curb repeated mistakes and get off to better starts. "(We're) playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions, so it's going be a tough game and a good measuring stick of where we are as a club," Nash said.


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ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (29-7-9): Goaltender Corey Crawford has lost both starts since returning from a 10-game injury absence and has not won since Nov. 29, but he made a season-high 40 saves in Sunday's 3-2 shootout defeat to San Jose. Crawford said it was disappointing not to be selected to Team Canada, noting "it was definitively a goal of mine." Rookie Antti Raanta showed he could carry the load in Crawford's absence, which bodes well for Chicago since backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin underwent surgery on his rotator cuff and is expected to miss four to five months.

OVERTIME

  1. Sharp has scored nine goals, including a pair of hat tricks, in seven games.

  2. Nash has 24 goals and 51 points in 55 career contests against Chicago.

  3. Toews has three goals and 16 assists in his last 14 games.

PREDICTION: Blackhawks 4, Rangers 2

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