The Blackhawks are 33-18-4 with 70 points. They trail the Nashville Predators by 10 points and the St. Louis Blues by six points in the Central Division standings. All three teams have played 55 games.
The Blackhawks defeated the Devils 3-2 in a shootout in New Jersey on Dec. 9 in their other meeting this season. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith had a goal and played 30:36 in the win.
The Devils are 21-24-9 with 51 points. They are on a two-game losing streak, but have won three of their last five games. They are led by Jaromir Jagr’s 29 points.
The Blackhawks are first in the league with an 87.6 penalty-kill percentage and the Devils are 25th with a 78.4 percentage. The Devils are 10th with a 19.6 power-play percentage and the Blackhawks are tied for 13th with a 19.0 percentage.
Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa is the hottest player in the NHL. He has scored two goals in each of the last three games. He improved his shooting percentage from 6.5 to 9.9 during that stretch and now has 16 goals on the season.
The Blackhawks’ morning skate lines were Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Hossa, Kris Versteeg - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Daniel Carcillo and Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Ryan Hartman. The defenseman pairings are expected to be Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith - David Rundblad and Kyle Cumiskey - Brent Seabrook.
Cory Schneider will start in net for the Devils, and Corey Crawford will go for the Blackhawks. Schneider is tied for eighth in the league with a .923 save percentage, and Crawford is tied for 15th with a .919 save percentage.