Blackhawks

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Senators

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Can the first line keep rolling?

Nothing but good things have happened since Vinnie Hinostroza was put on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. They've spent four games together and have combined for 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists), helping the Blackhawks go 2-1-1 during that stretch.

Hinostroza has added an element of speed up front, which has certainly complemented the game's Toews and Saad like to play. When the latter two players are rolling, usually the Blackhawks are too so it's important for them to keep building off this success.

2. Tomas Jurco's season debut?

After putting together a solid first half of the season in Rockford, the Blackhawks recalled Jurco on Monday to see whether or not he can carry over that offensive production to the big club.

Jurco ranks second on the IceHogs with 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists), and scored a goal in three of his last four games before getting brought up. Richard Panik drew back into the lineup on Sunday against Edmonton for John Hayden, who was sent down to Rockford, but Panik was underwhelming in only 10:53 of ice time. Expect Jurco to be subbed in for Panik on the fourth line tonight.

3. Banged-up Sens.

The Senators had a rough December, but January has been kind to them so far. They've picked up five out of a possible six points, and are coming off a big 6-3 win over Tampa Bay.

But they're fighting the injury bug right now. Nate Thompson has been ruled out tonight with a lower-body injury. Matt Duchene has the flu. Derick Brassard, Cody Ceci and Johnny Oduya are also all nursing injuries, as is Mark Borowiecki (concussion), who was cleared to practice and might return if they're shorthanded on defense.

Senators coach Guy Boucher told the media Monday morning that all of those players on the injury list mentioned above "could be all out and they could be all in." So it will likely be a gametime decision for each of them.

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Probably not the way the Blackhawks wanted to start their second half of the season.

After a five-day break, the Blackhawks suffered a brutal 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the United Center. This coming after a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on home ice last Sunday.

"It was a game we had to win," Quenneville said after Saturday's loss. "Disappointing in a lot of ways."

The Blackhawks needed both goaltenders to get through 60 minutes. Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass combined for 39 saves on 46 shots.

On the offensive side of things, Patrick Kane hit a milestone.

The 29-year-old had two goals and an assist and recorded his 800th career point, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to reach 800 points.

The Blackhawks are now 22-18-6 on the season with 50 points and rank last in the Central Division, five points behind the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.

The Blackhawks' schedule doesn't get any easier when the Tampa Bay Lightning — the league-leader in points — come to town on Monday.

See what Quenneville and Kane had to say about Saturday's loss in the video above.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.

The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.

He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.

"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.

He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.

On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.

3. Mathew Barzal.

Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.

He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game. 

The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.