Blackhawks: Richard Panik out vs. Lightning after oversleeping


Blackhawks: Richard Panik out vs. Lightning after oversleeping

TAMPA – Richard Panik will sit after oversleeping Thursday morning and Corey Crawford will get the start when the Blackhawks face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Panik did get on the ice late — well after line rushes — but will be out of the lineup. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks will dress seven defensemen for the game.

Jiri Sekac, who the Blackhawks acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Ryan Garbutt, will probably not arrive in Florida in time for Thursday's game. Quenneville said Sekac “could” play on Friday when the Blackhawks face the Florida Panthers.

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks acquire Jiri Sekac for Ryan Garbutt]

As for Thursday's game, the Blackhawks come in with their franchise-best 12-game winning streak and the Lightning sport a six-game winning streak.

“It’s fun. The atmosphere has been fun and the enthusiasm going into games has been great. During games as well,” Quenneville said of the streak. “Guys like playing big games. At the same time this stretch of games, this [Tampa Bay] team’s playing as well as anyone we’ve faced. It’s good a challenge, a good test and we have some history with them as well. It’ll be an exciting game from that point of view.”

The Lightning brass is dealing with young forward Jonathan Drouin, who was suspended indefinitely after failing to report for a Syracuse Crunch game on Wednesday. General manager Steve Yzerman said, “I’ve told both Jonathan and his agent [Alan Walsh] that we will trade him if and when we can make a deal that is good for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since then, nothing has changed.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Tampa Bay’s players, however, are firmly focused on the Blackhawks, who thwarted them in the Stanley Cup Final and who come in on the hottest streak of their franchise. The Lightning struggled earlier this season but has been on a roll itself lately. They know tonight will be a test.

“Obviously we had a slow start but as the season went on, getting all the guys back healthy and playing helped this team,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “Now we only look forward. We had a good start to the New Year and want to keep that going but we have the toughest possible opponent tonight. It’s a big challenge. Both teams want to keep their streaks alive but only one can do it, so we’ll do our best to make sure it’s us.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide 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 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: