Blackhawks News

3 Chicago Blackhawks To Watch In New Jersey

By Colin Likas

After a wild game Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues, the Chicago Blackhawks will embark on a one-game road trip to New Jersey for their first of two games this season against Marty Brodeur’s old team.

The Devils haven’t played since Tuesday and are coming off a 2-1 loss at the New York Islanders, certainly not an embarrassment. They’ve fared surprisingly well on the road at 4-2-0 but are just 2-3-1 at Prudential Center, where tonight’s game will occur. Overall, the Devils are at 6-5-1 for 13 points and fifth place in the eight-team Metropolitan Division. The Blackhawks have just two more points than the Devils in one more game, but the men in the Indian Head have struggled to a 1-4-0 road mark thus far.

Let’s take a look at the projected lineups for tonight’s tilt, starting with the Blackhawks. The team had a morning skate, but some players were not in attendance, and the lines used in the practice will not be used in the game tonight. How do I know this? David Rundblad was skating on a top-line wing. If that happens tonight, I’ll eat a hat. Not even my own hat … someone else’s hat. But here are the lines that were deployed Wednesday:

Artemi PanarinJonathan ToewsRyan Garbutt

Teuvo TeravainenArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane

Marko Dano-Tanner KeroViktor Tikhonov

Andrew DesjardinsMarcus KrugerAndrew Shaw

Viktor SvedbergBrent Seabrook

Trevor van RiemsdykNiklas Hjalmarsson

Erik GustafssonTrevor Daley

Corey CrawfordScott Darling

The lines certainly could change, but all we really seem to know is Crawford will start tonight, trying to shake off a rough outing Wednesday. Tikhonov seems likely to fill in for Ryan Hartman, who was demoted to Rockford on Thursday after a short run with the Blackhawks. Considering Rundblad skated with the forwards this morning, he probably won’t play tonight. What the situation is with Marian Hossa tonight is unclear. He made the trip with the team, and he could still play tonight despite missing the morning skate.

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Now on to the Devils, who have a bit of a hole in their lineup according to

Michael Cammalleri-Adam HenriqueLee Stempniak

?-Travis ZajacKyle Palmieri

Sergey KalininJacob JosefsonJordin Tootoo

Brian O’NeillStephen GiontaBobby Farnham

Andy GreeneAdam Larsson

John MooreDamon Severson

Jon Merrill-David Schlemko

Cory SchneiderKeith Kinkaid

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You might notice the question mark on the second line. Dailyfaceoff typically has full lines no matter the situation, but the website wasn’t sure who to put in that particular spot. With Ryan Clowe, Patrik Elias and Jiri Tlusty on the shelf, the Devils will have to turn to someone who hasn’t played much so far this season. Former Blackhawk Tuomo Ruutu, Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau are all possible options in that slot. Schneider will likely get the call for the Devils, as he has started 10 of New Jersey’s 12 games.

So which Blackhawks should we watch tonight? Here are my three suggestions:

Oct 24, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Viktor Tikhonov (14) skates against Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) during the second period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Viktor Tikhonov

This is only if Tikhonov slots in tonight, which isn’t a certainty. If Hossa does play, Garbutt will probably move down to the third line and Tikhonov will sit. But if the Russian does play, he will have something to prove to Joel Quenneville after missing the last several games as a healthy scratch. Against the Devils is as good a time as any for Tikhonov to crack the scoresheet, as New Jersey has a minus-2 goal differential in the early going. Plus, the Devils don’t do a whole lot of shooting the puck, which will keep possession with the Blackhawks. Even if Tikhonov sees less than 10 minutes of ice time tonight, he can turn that into a valuable showing for both the team and his future in the lineup.

Oct 30, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Tanner Kero (67) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Tanner Kero

The youngster was solid on the offensive end in the Blackhawks’ big first period against St. Louis, and he played a considerable amount more (11:26) than his two linemates to start the game, Dano (8:53) and Hartman (7:30). This would seem to indicate Coach Q trusts Kero a fair amount, and it’s time for Kero to reward that trust on the offensive end. Usually, when Q trusts a young player, it has a lot to do with that player’s defensive responsibility. Of course, Kero wasn’t called up for his defense; he was called up because he was filling the net in Rockford. These next several games offer a good opportunity for Kero to hit his stride, as the Blackhawks will play some weaker teams in New Jersey (twice), Edmonton and Calgary.

Nov 4, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) and St. Louis Blues right wing Troy Brouwer (36) fight for the puck during the overtime period at the United Center. St. Louis won 6-5 in OT. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Artemi Panarin

While the Panarin-Kane connection temporarily ending hasn’t hurt Kane’s offensive production, Panarin hasn’t had the same success alongside Toews as he had with Kane. Panarin had a particularly ugly minus-3 rating against the Blues and didn’t tally a point in more than 21 minutes of play. Like Kero, these next few games will give Panarin ample opportunities to find his offensive stroke and prove his success isn’t dictated solely by who he plays next to. Panarin isn’t at risk of getting benched or anything, but he needs to be able to provide an offensive spark in spite of Q’s blender. Doing that against New Jersey shouldn’t be as hard as it might’ve been against Los Angeles and St. Louis.