I’ll be pretty brief in this Chicago Blackhawks game preview, as, at the time I’m starting this post, I have to be to work in less than an hour and also have to drop off a rent check beforehand so I don’t get evicted from my apartment. The Blackhawks are back from a two-day hiatus tonight to take on the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center at 7:30 p.m.
The Kings are playing extremely well after losing their first three games of the season. They enter tonight’s affair on a seven-game win streak and tied for the top spot in the Pacific Division with 14 points. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have lost two straight and are in sixth in the Central with 13 points.
Let’s look at the projected lineups for tonight’s game, starting with the Blackhawks:
Trevor Van Riemsdyk-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Some noticeable changes in the top three lines after Dano was called up this morning and Bryan Bickell was sent to Rockford. Panarin will move away from Kane for the first time to take a shot with the captain, who also gets Garbutt as a result of Marian Hossa missing the game with an injury. Hossa is expected to be back in time for Wednesday’s game against St. Louis. Garbutt is fifth on the team in shots on goal, and he’s bound to get one to go in soon. Lining up with Toews ought to help that.
Teuvo will get another swing with Kane, as Anisimov continues to be graced by amazing hockey talents. Meanwhile, an all-Rockford trio makes up the third line, as Dano and Kero were linemates in the AHL this season before Kero’s promotion.
David Rundblad could slot in for Gustafsson tonight, but I haven’t seen anything suggesting it’ll happen. Crow gets the start in net after three days of rest.
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On to the Los Angeles side, based off their most-recent lineup:
The Kings’ top two lines have been somewhat successful thus far, with Toffoli tied for the league lead in goals with nine. Dwight King sits with an injury, but don’t worry: There’s still fun to be had with a name in the L.A. lineup. Andy Andreoff? That’s an awesome name.
Besides Doughty, the blue line is really iffy here in front of temperamental goaltender Quick. The Blackhawks should be attacking anyone who isn’t Doughty as often as humanly possible tonight, then following with as many shots as they can get on headcase JQuick.
Let’s look at three players to watch tonight for the Blackhawks.
As with all others in their NHL/season debuts, Dano gets the spotlight here. His third line may not see more than 12-14 minutes tonight, but it can make a huge impact in that time. It’s no secret the Blackhawks’ bottom-six scoring is pretty much nil, and with the familiarity Dano has with linemates Kero and Hartman, that could change rapidly. Dano is one of two big pieces from the Brandon Saad trade, so Blackhawks fans are looking forward to seeing what he can do in regular-season action. Any success could mean a fast promotion in the lineup.
How he meshes with Panarin will be very interesting to observe. He and Garbutt actually had some good things going against Minnesota, with Garbutt failing to convert a few golden opportunities set up by the captain. Toews has gone from one consistent linemate in Hossa to none, and while Toews is cracking the scoresheet now, he still seems a little off, as indicated by his 10 penalty minutes so far. If he can get some sustained offense going with Panarin and Garbutt, all signs point positive for the future of the first line.
He hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t been rotten in his short time on the Blackhawks blue line. But we’re getting to a point where he’s going to have to prove himself as a reliable blueliner sooner rather than later. Michal Rozsival is due back soon, and Duncan Keith will also return before we know it. Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Daley and Van Riemsdyk are locked into D spots, and Svedberg wants to make sure he’s on the right side of the ledger when changes are required. Playing well against a physical and streaking team like the Kings would go a long way toward impressing Joel Quenneville.
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