Blackhawks News

Game Preview: Patrick Kaneless Chicago Blackhawks Head South for Florida Panthers Rematch

By Brian Kinkade
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Oct 22, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save on a shot by Florida Panthers center Tomas Kopecky (82) in the second period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s all pretty much the same as Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers.  This time, the weather will be much more pleasant, as the game is in Florida.  However, things won’t feel sunny as the Chicago Blackhawks will be without the services of Patrick Kane not just for tonight’s game, but the rest of the season and some(possibly all) of the playoffs.  At least the sun will literally be shining on the Hawks because it couldn’t be much darker, metaphorically speaking.

This is the 2nd and final matchup between the Hawks and Panthers as they wrap-up a home-and-home series.The Hawks won on Tuesday night, in the shootout, by a score of 3-2.  Tonight, they will be going for the season sweep of the Cats.  Puck drop is set for 6:30 PM Central Time.  Tonight’s game can be seen on CSN-Chicago and can be heard on WGN 720 AM.

Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Panthers.

[table id=130 /]

Offensively, the Hawks have been great this season and tonight they will have to solve a below average Panthers’ defense.

Defensively, the Hawks have been an elite team and tonight they will be tasked with shutting down a Florida offensive attack that has been one of the worst in the league.

On the Power Play, the Hawks have improved and have been overall good, this season, and tonight they will be up against a Panthers Penalty Kill that has struggled mightily.

For the Hawks, the Penalty Kill has been elite and tonight they will face a Florida Power Play that is on one of the worst in the league.

In the faceoff circle, the Hawks have been very good and tonight they will be taking draws against a Cats squad that has been sub-par in the dot.

In terms of puck-possession, the Hawks are an elite team and tonight they will be fighting for the puck against a Florida team that is a bit below average at possessing the puck.

Once again, on paper the Hawks have a huge advantage.  The Hawks played great and controlled the game up until late in the 3rd period when the Panthers were able to tie the game to send it to the shootout.  Tonight’s game will be in Florida, and the Hawks will be without Kane the whole game, so the Panthers are looking a little more favorable than the numbers would suggest.  However, the Hawks should come out with energy and play a very spirited game, after learning of how long they’ll have to be without their leading scorer.  This should be an interesting one.

The Panthers are 26-21-13 with 65 points, which is good for 5th place in the Atlantic Division.  They are currently only 2 points behind the Boston Bruins for the 2nd and final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Even though he’s gone pointless in his last 4 games and is minus-5 in that span, Nick Bjugstad leads the Cats in points and has 21 goals this season.  Bjugstad, the 6’6 center will likely skate on a line with the also 6’6 former Hawk, Jimmy Hayeswho has 17 goals this season.  With a 2-game point streak, as well as 15 points in 30 games, Vincent Trocheck is emerging as a real threat for the Panthers.  Rookie defenseman, Aaron Ekblad will at least be a Calder Trophy finalist at the end of the season.

Starting in net for the Panthers will likely be Roberto Luongo once again.  Luongo is having a fine season with a .921 Save Percentage in 49 games played.  He’s a huge reason why Florida is still in the playoff hunt.

The Hawks are 36-20-5 with 77 points, which is good for 3rd place in the Central Division.  They are currently 3 points behind the 2nd place St. Louis Blues.

No one will be able to replace Patrick Kane, but Teuvo Tervainen will at least be taking his roster spot.  Will this be Tuevo’s coming out party?  Look for Patrick Sharp, who had a solid game on Tuesday, to step up in Kane’s absence.  He’s been due for a while and now the Hawks need him more than ever.  Jonathan Toews has a 2 game goal streak going, and is now the Hawks’ leader in points, among those currently on the active roster.  Kris Versteeg scored on Tuesday and now has 3 goals in his last 4 games.

Starting in net for the Hawks will either be Corey Crawford or Scott Darling.  Darling played very well on Tuesday against the Panthers and may have played his way into another start, especially since the Hawks play again tomorrow, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Whoever starts tonight, the other will start tomorrow against Tampa.

Although it doesn’t need to be said anymore, with Kane on the shelf, the rest of the team will have to play better than they were previously playing.  Losing the league’s leading scorer is about as brutal of a blow a team can take.  Look for a very spirited effort tonight, from the Hawks.

Go Hawks!

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