The Chicago Blackhawks are developing a knack for beating the league’s top teams.
Chicago now would like to start taking care of some of the NHL’s worst, starting with a matchup against the Edmonton Oilers.
Although the Blackhawks are 14th in the Western Conference, they have at least one point in five of the last seven games (3-2-1-1). Those three wins have been against St. Louis and Detroit—two of the league’s best teams—and San Jose—the Pacific Divison leader.
Chicago’s only two regulation losses in that seven-game span came against Pittsburgh and Columbus, owners of the worst records in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively. The Blackhawks play their next two games against the bottom teams in the Northwest Division—Edmonton and Minnesota.
Passmore has played very well since being recalled from the minors, allowing six goals in four games.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Passmore said. “I’m glad to come up, chip in and help out.”
Chicago has been helped lately by the return of two key players.
Captain and top center Alex Zhamnov returned Wednesday in a 4-3 overtime loss to Vancouver after missing 35 games due to back surgery. Defenseman Bryan Berard was back in the lineup Friday after missing 10 games with a groin injury.
Last-place Edmonton opened a six-game road trip Friday with a 2-1 victory over Minnesota.
Smyth is serving as team captain in place of defenseman Jason Smith, who injured his left ankle Tuesday against Minnesota and is expected to miss at least two weeks.
“Obviously it’s quite an honor,” Smyth said. “The guys really respect Jason and I’m wearing (the captain’s ‘C’) for him.”
Since allowing three goals in each of his first three starts following a one-month absence due to a hip injury, Salo has surrendered just nine goals in his past five games.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 2): Oilers - 35 points, 5th place, 15 PB, Northwest Division. Blackhawks - 31 points, 4th place, 22 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Oilers - Mike York, 12 goals, 16 assists and 28 points; Ethan Moreau, 52 PIM. Blackhawks - Kyle Calder, 10 goals; Steve Sullivan, 15 assists; Mark Bell and Sullivan, 21 points; Scott Nichol, 80 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 2): Oilers - Power play: 11.0 percent (18 for 164), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 76.4 percent (133 for 174), 30th. Blackhawks - Power play: 11.1 percent (20 for 180), 28th. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (154 for 181), 14th.
SEASON SERIES: Oilers, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 18; Oilers, 5-2. At Edmonton, Alberta, Radek Dvorak had two goals and an assist and Conklin made 33 saves for the Oilers.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Oilers - 6-8-4-0 on the road; Blackhawks - 7-5-4-3 at home.