Blackhawks

Three Things to Watch: Joel Quenneville turns back the clock when Blackhawks visit Flyers

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Three Things to Watch: Joel Quenneville turns back the clock when Blackhawks visit Flyers

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Philadelphia Flyers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Will the scoring drought end?

Chicago is well aware of the team's struggling power play, which ranks 27th with a 13.6 percent success rate. The Blackhawks failed to score a goal in 18 consecutive man-advantages at one point before breaking that drought, coincidentally, against the Flyers in a 3-0 win last week and ended up scoring another one in the next game. Progress.

But as Joel Quenneville said Sunday: "The offense is dry right now," and he's talking about it as a whole.

If you take away the season-opening 10-goal performance, the Blackhawks would be second-to-last in the league with 2.36 goals per game. That puts everything into perspective when it comes to just how dry the offense really has been.

2. Coach Q turns back the clock.

One way to try sparking that offense is by rekindling some old magic. Quenneville didn't just go to his line blender this time. He actually went back into time and reunited Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the first line, a trio that had great success together during the Blackhawks' first Stanley Cup run.

It also could be a move to help reignite Sharp, who hasn't had a point in nine straight games, and help spread the wealth around with Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov and Richard Panik serving as the new second line and Alex DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman making up the third line.

The Blackhawks are looking for anything at this point.

3. Watch out for Philly's top line.

Going into the week, the Flyers had three players among the top 10 in the NHL's scoring race: Sean Couturier (18), Jakub Voracek (18) and Claude Giroux (17). Because their last game was on Saturday, they've slipped a little bit, but the point remains the same: Philadelphia has three dangerous offensive playmakers.

Oh yeah, did we mention they all play on the same line?

For a team struggling to score goals, the Blackhawks must be cognizant of preventing them when this trio is on the ice.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks a playoff team even with Corey Crawford?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks a playoff team even with Corey Crawford?

Seth Gruen and US99’s Stylz & Roman join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel.  Joel Quenneville says he expects and hopes Corey Crawford can return this season?  Will he come back?  And are they a playoff team even if Crawford returns?

Plus the Bulls extend Zach LaVine’s minutes, a preview of Sunday’s championship game and will Jake Arrieta eventually end up back with the Cubs?