Blackhawks

Three Things to Watch: Corey Crawford returns to hometown as Blackhawks battle Canadiens

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Three Things to Watch: Corey Crawford returns to hometown as Blackhawks battle Canadiens

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

1. Corey Crawford vs. Carey Price.

There's a reason Crawford didn't start Monday night against Toronto.

For one, Montreal is his hometown and the Blackhawks get only one visit there per year. He deserves those starts when the opportunity presents itself. But, most importantly, his numbers against the team he grew up rooting for are remarkable.

In nine career games against the Canadiens, Crawford is 7-0-2 with a 1.55 goals against average and .951 save percentage, including one shutout.

On the other end of the ice will be Carey Price, who's the only goaltender to win the Hart Trophy for league MVP in the last 15 years. Expect a fun goaltending showdown.

2. The Mutt.

The Blackhawks will see a few familiar faces on the home bench, most notably Andrew Shaw, who helped bring two Stanley Cups to Chicago in 2013 and 2015.

Nicknamed "Mutt" for his scrappy style of play, Shaw has yet to record a point in three games for the Canadiens this season but his ice time has increased in each of them.

Last year Shaw registered a season-high six shots on goal in his first meeting against Chicago, an indication of how badly he'd like to stick it to his old friends. You know he'll be playing with some extra juice, especially with former teammates Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad back on the team.

3. Can Alex DeBrincat get on the board?

The Blackhawks have scored 18 goals in three games, but their top prospect hasn't gotten on the scoresheet yet other than an assist on Opening Night. He hasn't stood out, but he certainly hasn't shown any signs that he doesn't belong.

DeBrincat is a smart player who's doing all the right things, and just because those offensive numbers aren't there yet doesn't mean he's failing to live up to the hype early on. If anything, the flurry of goals from their top six has helped take away some of that early pressure while he gets accustomed to the big leagues.

He came close to scoring in the first two games, one of which rang off the pipe. The scoring chances will come, and he's more likely to bury them than not. Will it come tonight?

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.