Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Los Angeles Kings 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. Who will start in goal for Blackhawks?
With Corey Crawford out, Joel Quenneville has a decision to make. Does he roll with Anton Forsberg on the second of a back-to-back and coming off a 33-save performance or does he give Jean-Francois Berube a look between the pipes for what would be his first start of the season?
When Crawford missed three weeks last year with appendicitis, Scott Darling got all 10 starts, including a pair of back-to-backs. Now, maybe that was more about the faith Quenneville had in Darling being able to handle the heavy workload, but it's worth noting the second of a back-to-back isn't a deal-breaker for a backup goaltender.
Quenneville will go with his best chance to win, and it's also worth mentioning Berube's recent struggles with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League. He started the year 5-0-0 with a 1.38 goals against average and .950 save percentage, but is 1-6-0 with a 3.47 GAA and .888 save percentage in seven games since then.
Quenneville will speak with the media at 4 p.m., and will there announce his starting goaltender for the night.
2. Fatigue setting in?
The Blackhawks have lost three straight — two in overtime or a shootout — after going 4-0-1 in their previous five games, and will be playing in their fifth game in seven days. It's certainly taxing, and even more-so when you're traveling overnight to get home for an earlier evening start tonight against a Los Angeles team who is waiting for them.
Quenneville doesn't like to change the lineup when the team is winning, but with three consecutive losses and a grueling week, perhaps there will be a few lineup changes to also get some fresh legs out there.
The Blackhawks and Kings drew a lot of similarities over the last half decade or so, with each of them winning multiple Stanley Cups and having to get through each other to achieve some of them. The rivalry has since died down after the Kings missed the playoffs two out of the last three years and the Blackhawks lost in the first round in two straight postseasons, but can it rekindle that old magic?
Well, they match up pretty evenly from a distance.
The Blackhawks and Kings are tied for 25th with a power play percentage of 16.7, and rank among the top 5 in both penalty kill percentage (Kings are first at 89.0 percent, Blackhawks fourth at 84.2 percent) and goals against average (Kings are first at 2.22, Blackhawks fifth at 2.65.)