Michal Kempny back in lineup when Blackhawks host Avalanche

Michal Kempny back in lineup when Blackhawks host Avalanche

Michal Kempny will draw back into the lineup and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the Colorado Avalanche tonight at the United Center.

The Blackhawks have won three in a row and four of their last five games entering tonight’s contest. They’ve gotten great performances out of Crawford and their penalty kill has improved (9 of 9 over the last three games). But they’re still looking for that consistent game across the board.

“Obviously finding a way to win is important, especially in an 82-game schedule. We played a really good game against [Los Angeles] then were a step down in the first period against Calgary,” Duncan Keith said. “We want to focus on having a good start, carrying it through to the second period and set ourselves up for a good third.”

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Kempny was a healthy scratch last game when Gustav Forsling returned to the lineup. Michal Rozsival looks to be the defensive scratch tonight.

Nick Schmaltz has played wing for the Blackhawks recently but coach Joel Quenneville said Schmaltz could be moved to center tonight. Schmaltz centered Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo at the morning skate.

Meanwhile, Quenneville said Andrew Desjardins (lower body) is still likely to play Sunday against the Dallas Stars. Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk is still not skating; Quenneville said he’s still on the original timeline to come back from his upper-body injury.


7:30 p.m.


Radio: WGN

Chicago Blackhawks

Richard Panik-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Tyler Motte

Dennis Rasmussen-Nick-Schmaltz-Jordin Tootoo


Duncan Keith-Brian Campbell

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling-Niklas Hjalmarsson


Corey Crawford


INJURIES: Andrew Desjardins (lower body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body).


Colorado Avalanche

Gabriel Landeskog-Matt Duchene-Jarome Iginla

Mikhail Grigorenko-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen

Rene Bourque-Carl Soderberg-Blake Comeau

Andreas Martinsen-John Mitchell-Joe Colborne


Nikita Zadorov-Erik Johnson

Francois Beauchemin-Tyson Barrie

Patrick Wiercioch-Fedor Tyutin


Semyon Varlamov

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: