Red-hot Hurricanes square off with reeling Blackhawks

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Everything is going so well for the Carolina Hurricanes that coach Rod Brind’Amour is hesitant to make changes.

However, he also has put together a plan, so that could make for a difficult decision regarding the team’s Friday night game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Raleigh, N.C.

That’s because goalie Frederik Andersen has played in every game of the Hurricanes’ franchise-best 6-0-0 start to the season. He is coming off a 33-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.

So, will he be back in the nets a night later?

“We’ll see,” Brind’Amour said.

It’s an issue because this marks the conclusion of the first set of games on back-to-back nights for the Hurricanes.

With the schedule becoming busier, Brind’Amour has said he would have to consider mixing up the lineup.

The Hurricanes also have to refocus after topping the Bruins, who knocked Carolina out of the playoffs in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

“We’ll be talking about the next game tomorrow and this will be forgotten,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s kind of (all about being) 1-0. That’s our thought process. We’re just trying to win every day.”

That hasn’t happened for Chicago. The Blackhawks, off to an 0-5-2 start, have battled well at times, coach Jeremy Colliton said. The energy has been fine on occasion, but it’s a matter of finishing the job.

“The only way to get through it is to just keep pushing,” Colliton said. “Understand it’s early in the season and this will make us better in the end.”

The Blackhawks are playing under the off-ice cloud surrounding the organization’s mishandling of a sexual assault case from more than a decade ago. Details emerged earlier this week, rocking the organization and causing a front-office shakeup, with the fallout extending to other organizations in the league.

The on-ice issues are numerous for the Blackhawks, who scored a total of seven goals in a four-game homestand.

Chicago is coming off its best defensive performance in terms of goals allowed in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

The Hurricanes have found ways to put forth consistent efforts this season. Now they will face another type of challenge without a day off between games.

“You have to turn around and do it again without a letdown,” Brind’Amour said.

The six-game winning streak has come largely because of what Andersen has done. He is the second goalie in NHL history to notch a victory in each of his team’s first six games in his debut season with a new club. He leads the NHL with a .956 save percentage.

“If you have a goalie making saves, you have your chances,” Brind’Amour said.

Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov both have six-game points streaks for Carolina. Svechnikov’s empty-net tally Thursday night pushed his team-leading total to six goals.

Carolina was 7-2-0 in the back end of games on back-to-back days last season.

The Blackhawks and Hurricanes were in the same division in last year’s pandemic-related reconfiguration. Carolina went 5-2-1 in matchups with Chicago.

–Field Level Media

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