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3 Chicago Blackhawks To Watch Playing With Fire

By Colin Likas
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Don’t you feel fantastic after the Chicago Blackhawks not only take the first half of a back-to-back, but also defeat the rival St. Louis Blues on their home ice in the process? I know I do.

With the Blackhawks coming off their ninth win of the season, a 4-2 triumph at Scottrade Center, they’ll look for No. 10 back at home tonight against the lowly Calgary Flames.

Things have certainly take a turn for the Flames following their surprise showing in the 2015 postseason. Their goaltending situation has resulted in some absolutely embarrassing statistics, and they have nothing resembling depth on offense. It’s led to the second-to-last spot in the Pacific Division through 18 games, one more than the Blackhawks have participated in.

Let’s head to the projected lineups, starting with the host Blackhawks.

Marko Dano-Jonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Artemi PanarinArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane

Andrew ShawMarcus KrugerTeuvo Teravainen

Brandon Mashinter-Tanner Kero-Ryan Garbutt

Duncan KeithNiklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor van RiemsdykBrent Seabrook

Trevor DaleyMichal Rozsival

Scott DarlingCorey Crawford

Joel Quenneville typically doesn’t like to change his lines and defensive pairings after a win, so we could see the same group tonight at the United Center that we saw last night. Three different Blackhawks lines were, more or less, on the ice for a goal against the Blues. The third line teamed with the returning Keith to create the first goal, which was credited to Shaw, the first line was on the ice for the second goal and all three members of the third line earned a point on the third tally, which was a powerplay marker.

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Darling figures to get the call tonight on the second half of a back-to-back, as he hasn’t seen much action lately and the Flames just aren’t very good. The goaltending decision hasn’t been officially made at the time of this post, however.

Let’s see what the Flames might roll out tonight.

Johnny Gaudreau-Sean MonahanJiri Hudler

Sam BennettMikael BacklundMichael Frolik

Joe ColborneMatt StajanDavid Jones

Micheal FerlandDerek GrantBrandon Bollig

Mark GiordanoT.J. Brodie

Kris RussellDougie Hamilton

Deryk EngellandDennis Wideman

Karri RamoJoni Ortio

It’s OK if you don’t know who some of these guys are, but the Flames do have a few scoring options as they’re currently constructed. Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler have combined for 43 points so far, with Gaudreau’s 17 pacing the team. Bennett and former Blackhawk Frolik have produced a total of 23 points on the second line. But beyond that, it’s pretty slim picking for the Flames as far as points go.

The same can’t be said for penalty minutes, as Calgary has six players with 12 or more. Leading the charge, to the surprise of no one, is former Blackhawk Bollig, who has 42 in 13 games. But at least he only has a minus-3 rating, unlike teammates Giordano and Russell (minus -11 each).

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Ramo is scheduled to get the start, and he’s been mediocre in general. But the Flames are making the best of a bad situation, as Ortio has also been rotten and Jonas Hiller is on injured reserve (before which he, too, was bad).

So which Blackhawks will we watch tonight?

Nov 14, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie

Jake Allen

(34) dives and makes a glove save on a shot by Chicago Blackhawks center Marko Dano (56) during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Marko Dano

Coach Q will be able to dictate the matchups tonight, and that should be good news for the Dano-Toews-Hossa line. Dano recorded an assist last night for his second point in six games, but this could be a breakout opportunity for the youngster. We know he has good vision on the ice and has the ability to set up scoring plays, which bodes well for line partners Toews and Hossa. But you know the Blackhawks would like to see Dano getting the puck on the net a little more often in spite of who he lines up next to. Dano has just five shots on goal in his time with the Blackhawks, and the Flames are allowing 30.4 shots per contest. If Dano gets a chance or chances to put the puck on net tonight, he should take them unless there’s a guaranteed goal chance elsewhere.

Oct 9, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center

Casey Cizikas

(53) plays the puck against Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Duncan Keith

Not surprisingly, Keith came out of the gates from his knee surgery and played an obscene 27:34 against the Blues. Maybe a little more surprising, he immediately made an impact on the scoresheet by having his first-period shot deflected into the net by Shaw. But we’re looking at him tonight because of that first fact. If the Blackhawks can jump out to a nice advantage, it’d be awesome to see Keith play a little less time. Playing 54 minutes in a back-to-back right after knee surgery doesn’t seem like the most surefire way to ease a key player back into the lineup, and hopefully Q won’t have to resort to that. Regardless, a second straight game against a physical opponent will be a fair test for Keith, and hopefully he’s generally able to stay out of the way of big hits.

Next: Blackhawks Of 2015 Aren't Like Those Of 2011

Oct 17, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing

Nick Foligno

(71) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Trevor Daley (6) fight for the puck in front of goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Daley

I still think the Rozsival-Daley pairing is something out of our deepest nightmares, but the Blackhawks won their first game using it, so maybe it won’t be the worst thing in the world. Still, Daley is going to have to be that pairing’s leader whether he likes it or not. Sure, Rozsival is more comfortable with the Blackhawks’ system, but that excuse is wearing thin on Daley’s end. He needs to start looking like a capable defenseman on both ends of the ice if the Blackhawks are going to continually roll with this unit. This would be a nice spot to start, as there are some favorable matchups to get Daley and Rozsival out against. Maybe gaining some confidence is just the thing Daley needs to turn around his slow start to the season.

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