Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators 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 top line build off monster game vs. Detroit?
This was one of our three things to watch against Detroit, and we're making it one again. The trio of Alex DeBrincat, Anthony Duclair and Jonathan Toews had a monster game in a 5-1 win over the Red Wings going into the All-Star break, combining for four goals and four assists.
It was a much-needed offensive explosion for a team struggling to find the back of the net as of late. Will they lead the way again and pick up where they left off?
2. Artem Anisimov's role.
After missing nearly a month with an upper-body injury, Anisimov returned to the lineup for the final three games before the All-Star break but has seen his role diminish. While he's still on the power play, Anisimov is slotted in as the third-line center with Nick Schmaltz thriving in the second-line center role and it makes for a deeper lineup.
But Anisimov's ice time has decreased in each of the last three games, going from 15:30 to 13:39 to 13:33, the latter two of which are second- and third-fewest of the season, respectively. It'll be interesting to see whether the Schmaltz-Anisimov-Patrick Kane line will be reunited down the road if things go sideways or if the middle is permanently set for balance purposes.
3. P.K. Subban.
With a goal in three straight games, Subban has tied his career-long goal streak set back in the 2010-11 season when he scored three in a row against Carolina, New Jersey and Chicago. He's never had a four-game goal streak, so look for him to try to keep that going tonight.
He has 12 goals in 47 games this season, already surpassing the 10 goals he scored last year in 66 games. His career high is 15 set in 2014-15, which he did in 82 games. At this rate Subban is certainly on pace to break that mark.
After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.
Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.
"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.
"What was said this time around crossed the line."
The Capitals released a statement about the incident:
"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."
The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.
Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.
"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."
The Capitals released the full interview.
Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.
Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.
Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:
After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: