NHL cancels games through Jan. 14

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NHL cancels games through Jan. 14

With no talks currently going, and none planned in the immediate future, the NHL canceled more games on Thursday.

The league canceled games through Jan. 14 on Thursday, bringing the total number of canceled regular-season contests to 625; 50.8 percent of the season has been nixed. This latest announcement, much like all the others before them, is no surprise. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in two radio interviews yesterday that more cancellations are on the way.

But after this, the only cancellation remaining could likely be for the entire season. The NHL has made it clear that if theres going to be a 48-game season the minimum it feels should be played the season would have to start in mid-January.

Blackhawks prep for Rangers without Brent Seabrook

Blackhawks prep for Rangers without Brent Seabrook

The Blackhawks broke out of their scoring slump against one of the league’s worst teams on Tuesday. Now they’ll face one of the best.

Scott Darling will start but Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook will be out when the Blackhawks face the New York Rangers on Friday night at the United Center. Coach Joel Quenneville was hoping at least Toews would skate on Friday but he didn’t. Toews and Seabrook could skate on Saturday but until they do, Quenneville is hesitant to say when they’ll return to game action.

Seabrook will be missing just his third regular-season game since 2012-13. Duncan Keith joked that Seabrook’s absence has meant a quieter locker room — “we’ve gotta talk a little more to get some noise going in here,” he said. But there’s no doubt the Blackhawks will miss Seabrook on the ice.

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“On top of everything he brings off the ice for us he’s been such a durable, important player for this team, this organization. When he’s not out there it’s a weird feeling,” Keith said. “We have to do as best we can to play good hockey and try to fill a huge void you can’t really replace.”Michal Kempny appears to be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. Quenneville was asked what Kempny needs to improve upon.

“I just think that consistency without the puck and how he defends in his own end is probably the area that there’s growth there in his game. But I still think our defense is pretty good and we’ve got some tough decisions on a game to game basis. He adds one more guy we feel can play,” Quenneville said. “But I think the depth, that’s a strength, and sometimes that’s part of the decision.”

The Rangers, who have 37 points this season, are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. While the Rangers got off to a hot start, winning 13 of their first 17 games, they’ve come down to earth lately (5-4-1 in their last 10). Like the Blackhawks, the Rangers have had their injury issues. Rick Nash (groin) and Jimmy Vesey (upper body) are the latest injuries. Vesey was listed as day-to-day; his status for tonight’s game is not yet known.

Broadcast information

Time: 7:30 p.m.

TV: CSN

Live Stream: CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports app

Blackhawks lines

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger -Marian Hossa

Tyler Motte-Dennis Rasmussen-Richard Panik

Andrew Desjardins-Vinnie Hinostroza-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Gustav Forsling-Michal Rozsival

Goaltender

Scott Darling

Injuries 

Jonathan Toews (back), Brent Seabrook (upper body), Corey Crawford (appendix)

Rangers lines (via New York Daily News)

Michael Grabner-Kevin Hayes-J.T. Miller

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Marek Hrivik-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast

Nicklas Jensen-Josh Jooris-Brandon Pirri

Defensive pairs

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Nick Holden

Brady Skjei-Kevin Klein

Goaltender

Antti Raanta

Injuries

Jimmy Vesey (upper body), Rick Nash (groin), Matt Puempel (concussion), Mika Zibanejad (broken fibula), Pavel Buchnevich (back)

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the New York Rangers tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Best in the West vs. best in the East?

The Blackhawks and Rangers square off tonight as two of the best teams in the league, with each at or near the top of their respective conferences in the standings. The Rangers are two points away from first place in the East, but own the best goal differential of any team at plus-29. The Blackhawks sit atop the West with 37 points and have the second-best goal differential in the West at plus-10. Still a long, long way to go, but perhaps an early Stanley Cup Final preview?

2. Four stars sidelined.

The Blackhawks are already without Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews due to injuries, and now Brent Seabrook has been added to the list. Luckily for the Blackhawks, they have a surplus of defensemen and won't have a problem finding a guy prepared to step in. But Seabrook is irreplaceable on and off the ice, and he's been really good on it this season. For the Rangers, Rick Nash is out with a groin injury while Jimmy Vesey was scratched last night due to an upper-body injury, making his status unknown for tonight. Lots of firepower will be watching the game from the press box.

3. Jimmy Vesey.

Speaking of Vesey, the Blackhawks went all-out for the reigning Hobey Baker Award as college's top player in the offseason by including Patrick Kane in their recruiting pitch. Vesey's decision reportedly came down to the Blackhawks and Rangers — and it sounded like Chicago was the frontrunner — but he ended up choosing to stay closer to home by picking New York. He's made an immediate impact, scoring nine goals and adding seven assists in 27 games. Three of those goals have been game-winners. If he plays (he's battling an upper-body injury, as mentioned above), it will be interesting to see the reception he gets from the United Center crowd when he steps onto the ice — although it's possible he doesn't get one at all. 

4. Scott Darling vs. Antti Raanta.

Former Blackhawks netminder Antti Raanta has been sensational for the Rangers this season, owning a 6-1-0 record with a 2.05 goals against average and .932 save percentage. He's going to get his second straight start, and will do so at the United Center, where he has a lifetime record of 14-0-3 and a .942 save percentage. It will be his first start against his former team since being traded to New York in June 2015, and he'll do it against Darling, who he lost his backup job to during that year that ended in a Stanley Cup. The last time — and only time — Darling faced the Rangers, he earned his first career NHL shutout when he stopped all 25 shots en route to a 1-0 victory in March 2015. It will surely be a fun matchup to watch.

5. Limit quality chances.

The Rangers have been a dangerous team offensively this season, scoring the most goals of any team with 99. That's good for 3.54 goals per game. They've been successful in that area because of the contributions they're getting from up and down the lineup, highlighted by Michael Grabner's team-leading 13 goals. The Rangers average only 28.4 shots per game, which ranks fifth-worst, but their shooting percentage at even strength is far and away the best in the league at an astonishing 11.39. Watch out for those quality shots.

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