Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return home to face Canadiens


Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return home to face 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 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Which goalie matchup will we see?

Before Wednesday, Corey Crawford went nearly a year without recording a shutout. Now he's got two in as many games. The 32-year-old Blackhawks netminder turned in a 35-save performance in a 3-0 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday Night Rivalry, then followed that up by blanking Minnesota 2-0 with 24 saves.

To make the decision more difficult, Crawford owns an 8-0-2 record with a 1.49 goals against average and .954. save percentage in 10 career starts against the Canadiens. Will Joel Quenneville ride the hot hand on the second of a back-to-back and play Crawford against his hometown team or will he give the nod to Anton Forsberg, who's still looking for his first win of the season?

On Montreal's side, Carey Price traveled to Chicago but is still listed as day to day with a lower body injury. Claude Julien told reporters Saturday night he's unsure whether he'll roll with Chicago native Al Montoya for the second straight night or 23-year-old Charlie Lindgren.

2. Can Artem Anisimov keep his goal streak going?

After scoring one goal in his first 10 games to start the season, Anisimov has found the back of the net in each of his last four. Most importantly, two of those goals have come on the power play, which is 2-for-22 in its last five contests.

Getting that net-front presence is crucial for the Blackhawks offense both at even strength and the man advantage, and Anisimov providing that helps take pressure off the top six.

3. Andrew Shaw coming in hot.

The former Blackhawks forward is coming back to a familiar place, and he's bringing a hot stick with him.

Shaw went goalless in his first 12 games to start the campaign, but he's scored three goals in his last two and you know he'll be even hungrier to keep that streak going against his old club.

He registered four shots on goal and had a minor penalty in the team's first meeting against Chicago, a 3-1 loss in Montreal on Oct. 10.

2020 NHL Draft: How Rangers getting No. 1 pick affects Blackhawks

2020 NHL Draft: How Rangers getting No. 1 pick affects Blackhawks

On Monday night, during Phase 2 of the NHL Draft lottery, the New York Rangers won the No. 1 overall pick for the 2020 NHL Draft.

Originally, the top pick went to a placeholder team during Phase 1 of the lottery in June. Eight of the teams eliminated during the Stanley Cup Qualifiers  Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets — would each have a 12.5% chance of walking away with the No. 1 pick.

New York grabbing the top pick affects the Hawks in a few ways. 

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First, Hawks fans can relax and enjoy the playoffs with their team in it as the Oilers didn't win the pick. Meaning, if the Oilers had won it, it would have belonged to the Hawks if the Oilers eliminated them in the qualifying round and not the other way around.

Second, the Blackhawks could now get the No. 16 or 17 overall pick if they lose to the Golden Knights in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, depending on the results of the Montreal Canadiens-Philadelphia Flyers series.  

The No. 1 pick of this year's draft is expected to be forward Alexis Lafrenière, who registered 35 goals and 77 assists for a league-leading 112 points in 52 games this season with the Rimouski Océanic of the QMJHL, where he also served as the team captain. 

So former Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin — a Hart Trophy finalist this year with the Rangers — could have a young, skilled forward helping him generate even more offense for New York as early as next season.

Related: Why former Blackhawk Artemi Panarin should win the Hart Trophy

The 2020 NHL Draft is scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10. It was originally scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which paused the NHL on March 12.

Robin Lehner starting Game 1 for Vegas Golden Knights against Blackhawks Tuesday

Robin Lehner starting Game 1 for Vegas Golden Knights against Blackhawks Tuesday

Ahead of the start of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs' matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer announced former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner will get the start in net for Vegas in Game 1 against his former team. 

The 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist was traded from Chicago to Vegas ahead of Feb. 24's trade deadline. He was 16-10-5 as a Hawk during the 2019-20 regular season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage prior to the move.

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner unveils new pads

Lehner was in net for the Knights' overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday in a round-robin contest to help Vegas grab the No. 1 seed in the West for Round One, pitting them against the Blackhawks, who were the No. 12 seed in the qualifying round and were reseeded to be No. 8 for Round One.

Following Saturday's game, Lehner was asked about facing the Blackhawks and his former goalie partner Corey Crawford and if playing with the Hawks earlier this season carries an advantage.

Related: Former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner's birthday cake is unreal

"I don't know. All I know is it's going to be fun playing them," Lehner said. "They're a very good hockey team and I have a lot of respect for them, the whole organization... but I think I really like it here (with Vegas), we're a great hockey team."

The 29-year-old netminder got off to a hot start with Vegas ahead of the NHL pause on March 12 going 3-0-0 with 1.67 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

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