Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: Ottawa Senators Preseason Preview

By Samuel Boland
OTTAWA, ON - SEPTEMBER 21: Chicago Blackhawks Dylan Skiura (95) skates the puck out of the defensive zone during the third period of the NHL preseason game between the Ottawa Senators and the Chicago Blackhawks on Sept. 21, 2018 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Steven Kingsman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - SEPTEMBER 21: Chicago Blackhawks Dylan Skiura (95) skates the puck out of the defensive zone during the third period of the NHL preseason game between the Ottawa Senators and the Chicago Blackhawks on Sept. 21, 2018 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Steven Kingsman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks face off against the Ottawa Senators for the second time this preseason. Here’s what to watch during this match up.

No. 3) Goaltending

Cam Ward was brought in this offseason to provide stability at the goaltending position which the Chicago Blackhawks lacked since Corey Crawford’s injury. That said, after giving up six goals on only sixteen shots against the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night there may not be as much stability there as we anticipated.

As a result, that could mean the Blackhawks are looking for help to come from elsewhere. Anton Forsberg is rumored to be the starting goaltender tonight and he is positioned to be the Blackhawks backup heading into this year. Colin Delia is close behind him in the fight, so Forsberg’s performance could surely matters tonight.

If he’s not in net, watch for Ward to bounce back or for Delia to prove himself.

No. 2) New Defensive Pairings

The lineup we will see tonight defensively could be the defensive lineup come opening night. Here’s how the pairings look.

  1. Keith-Jokiharju
  2. Manning-Seabrook
  3. Gustafsson-Rutta

Coach Joel Quenneville has toyed with putting Keith and Seabrook back together this year, however he is moving away from that idea tonight. Henri Jokiharju is back in the lineup and skating with Duncan Keith which provides speed to the first defensive pairing.

How good that pairing looks tonight — and how Seabrook plays without Keith — will have a huge impact on how that first defensive pairing looks at the start of the season.

No. 1) Roster Battles

There aren’t many roster spots still up for grabs in the Chicago Blackhawks lineup, but those that are will be fought for hard tonight. For reference, here’s how the Blackhawks lines will look like tonight.

  1. DeBrincat-Toews-Kahun
  2. Schmaltz-Anisimov-Sikura
  3. Kunitz-Johnson-Saad
  4. Hayden-Kruger-Martinsen

Patrick Kane and David Kampf are both out, however it’s a safe bet that the one making 10 million dollars a year probably has a secure spot in the lineup (hint: that’s Patrick Kane).

So, that leaves Kampf on the outside looking in. As a result, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on Luke Johnson to do well centering the third line tonight. His play, along with John Hayden on the fourth, are both two things to watch this evening.

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Additionally, Dylan Sikura is skating in Kane’s spot on the second line with Nick Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov. He is fighting for a spot and hopes to make it hard on the Blackhawks organization to send him to the AHL.

Time, and this game, will tell.

All in all, Sikura, Hayden and Johnson are three to keep your eyes peeled for this evening.

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