Blackhawks

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to end skid vs. Sabres

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to end skid vs. Sabres

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Buffalo Sabres tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Reinforcements coming?

After losing their fifth straight game, the Blackhawks recognized that changes needed to be made. So on Thursday, they placed Tanner Kero on waivers and all indications point to Vinnie Hinostroza getting recalled if/when Kero clears.

Hinostroza leads the Rockford IceHogs with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 23 games, and has proven he belongs on the big league roster. It'll be interesting to see where he plays, if he's in fact the player coming up. His speed can certainly help provide an offensive spark, and might be better suited to play a top six role off the get go.

2. Anton Forbserg or Jean-Francois Berube?

Forsberg was really good in his first two starts after Corey Crawford went down with a lower-body injury, but he struggled in his third one Wednesday in Washington, allowing three goals in a span of 3:28 and was pulled before the first period ended.

Berube wasn't too bad in relief. He stopped 12 of 14 shots, and didn't look out of place. There's a chance Crawford returns Sunday vs. Arizona, so this could be the only chance Berube gets at starting before then.

3. American boys.

It's unfortunate we won't get to see the possibility of Patrick Kane and Jack Eichel playing on a line together for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics. It could have been special to watch as two of the faces of the country.

But they will share the same sheet of ice tonight, and each of them tend to take their game to a higher level when they square off.

Eichel has recorded at least a point in three of four career games against Chicago while Kane has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 13 games against his hometown Sabres. Kane had two goals and three assists against them last year, including an overtime winner on Jan. 5 at home.

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.

The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.

The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.

The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.

The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a look at the full schedule:

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said that the team expects goalie Corey Crawford to be back next season around training camp. Bowman also mentioned that Crawford might speak about his status himself during the Blackhawks Convention.

“What I said at the end of the year was still the case now, which is we expect Corey to be back,” Bowman said in a Thursday afternoon conference call. “We don’t have any reason to think that’s not going to happen.”

According to Bowman, Blackhawks players, including Crawford, already have their eyes set on next season.

“At this point in the summer, all the players are preparing for next season,” Bowman said. “Corey’s in that same preparation mode.”

Crawford is nursing what has been labeled an upper-body injury by the team. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was put on the shelf for the rest of the season back in late December, and he has not seen the ice since he skated in a February practice.

“Nothing has changed,” Bowman said. “We expect him to be back and ready to go in training camp.”

The Blackhawks have chosen to keep any groundbreaking news with Crawford under wraps, which the organization has done with other player injuries in the past. Bowman spoke about his vagueness in this situation.

“We’ve never gone into specifics about injuries,” Bowman said. “I realize this probably gets more attention because he’s our starting goalie and he won the Stanley Cup.”

Fans will have to take a wait-and-see approach, because it is unlikely that there will be a significant update regarding Crawford’s health before the season gets closer to its start.

Last season, Crawford only appeared in 28 games, posting a record of 16-9 with 782 saves before going down for the rest of the year.