Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks aim to stay hot vs. Devils tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks aim to stay hot vs. Devils tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the New Jersey Devils tonight on CSN and streaming live on Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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Five Things to Watch:

1. Down two centers?

The Blackhawks have found a way to pick up five out of a possible six points in their last three games without Jonathan Toews, who will miss a fourth straight with an upper-body injury, but it's asking a lot if you also take away their second-line center who had been filling in on the top line. Artem Anisimov limped off the ice late in the third period of Wednesday's game, and didn't return. He has officially been cleared to play, so the lines won't be as interesting as we initially thought, but it's worth watching whether Anisimov will be at full strength.

2. Strong on the penalty kill.

The Devils haven't taken many advantages on the power play away from home this season, cashing in on only three of their 39 opportunities, a success rate of 7.7 percent, which ranks second-worst. They will be getting a big boost on offense tonight, however, with Taylor Hall, who's been sidelined for the last eight games with a knee injury, returning to the lineup. It will also be a challenge considering Jonathan Toews remains out, which takes away one of the Blackhawks' top penalty killers. One way to avoid this problem is to stay out of the box all together.

3. Corey Crawford vs. Cory Schneider.

Stop us if you've heard this before: Crawford has been standing on his head lately, and the Blackhawks wouldn't be stealing points on a consistent basis without him. He came up large again in Wednesday's 2-1 shootout win over Florida, stopping 38 of 39 shots, including both shootout attempts. Crawford's counterpart tonight isn't too bad, either. While his numbers aren't quite as good as they were last year, Schneider remains one of the league's top goaltenders with a 8-6-3 record, 2.56 goals against average and .914 save percentage this season. He backstopped the Devils to victories in both meetings against the Blackhawks last year, turning aside 54 of 58 shots, good for a .931 save percentage. Perhaps we'll see another goaltending duel.

4. Slow down Michael Cammalleri.

One of the hottest sticks in the league right now is Cammalleri, who was named the NHL's second star of the week after recording at least two points in all three games. He has seven goals and four assists in his last six, which included a hat trick, the sixth of his career, in a 4-1 win over Carolina despite logging a season-low 13:10 minutes of ice time. The 34-year-old winger ranks second on the team in points with 14 despite missing six games with an injury. Keep the puck off his twig.

5. John Quenneville to make his NHL debut.

It will be a mini family reunion at the United Center tonight. After placing Beau Bennett (leg) on injured reserve, John Quenneville was recalled by the Devils and is expected to make his debut — unless the return of Taylor Hall somehow blocks him from hopping into the lineup, which would put a damper on a cool story. John is the second cousin of Joel, the Blackhawks' head coach. He was a first-round pick (No. 30 overall) in the 2014 draft, and leads Albany, the Devils' AHL affiliate, in goals (7) and points (17) through 19 games. It should be a memorable moment for all the Quenneville's in the house.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks spiral after Corey Crawford injury

Four takeaways: Blackhawks spiral after Corey Crawford injury

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks at the United Center on Sunday:

1. A whacky first period

The Sharks came into the game with the second-most goals in the first period this season with 41. The Blackhawks have given up the most (49). So in a way, a five-goal first period wasn't all that surprising. But the way it happened certainly was.

The Blackhawks scored two goals within 47 seconds of each other, and had three goals on four shots before Sharks goaltender Martin Jones was pulled for Aaron Dell. Meanwhile, the Sharks had two goals within a 42 second span on only four shots up to that point. 

In total, there were five goals on 14 shots between the two teams for a shooting percentage of 35.7. It made for an entertaining first 20 minutes.

"Good start," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Pucks went in for us. We seemed to get a little looser there as the period went on, and they had a little push. We didn’t respond. Hard to say too much more than that.”

2. Concern for Corey Crawford

The Blackhawks had an unfortunate injury situation late in the first period when Crawford left the game with 1:30 remaining following a collision in the crease where he hit the back of his head on the post. Colliton confirmed after the game that Crawford sustained a concussion and is in protocol.

It was Evander Kane who shoved Dylan Strome into Crawford, who left the game immediately and did not return. Cam Ward made 30 saves on 35 shots (.857 save percentage) in relief.

There's obviously concern for Crawford, who missed 47 games with a concussion last season and also the first five games this year trying to get back into game shape.

"He's probably the guy that's worked the hardest and held us in the most over the season," Connor Murphy said. "So that's never a good sign. Crow's such a big part of our team and to lose him, it's not good. You just feel for him."

3. Five unanswered goals

After Crawford's injury, the life appeared to be sucked out of the United Center and the Sharks took advantage by scoring five unanswered goals — three of which came in the second period.

The Blackhawks wouldn't use Crawford's injury as an excuse, but it's hard not to when they were outscored 5-0 and outshot 29-13 in the final two periods.

"I don't think it was just that," Murphy said. "The second period was terrible. Our 5-on-5 play, we didn't have any passion, we didn't play simple enough, we turned it over and our special teams we didn't have enough urgency either. So it was not good."

4. More special teams problems

The Blackhawks had eight minutes of power play time and generated only four total shots on goal, none of which found the back of the net. The Sharks had 3:09 minutes of power play time and converted on both of their opportunities.

Special teams is a crucial part of the game, and the Blackhawks came up on the losing end of that battle again.

"Special teams are a big part of the game," Strome said. "It's obviously a big swing right there. We had a tough time getting into the zone a couple times, but we had some good looks there at the beginning of the second and for whatever reason we didn't convert. They have a good power play over there. Tonight they won the special teams and it showed in the game."

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Corey Crawford exits Blackhawks-Sharks early after collision in crease

Corey Crawford exits Blackhawks-Sharks early after collision in crease

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford exited in the first period on Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks after a collision in the crease, and did not return. 

Coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after the game that Crawford has a concussion and is currently in protocol.

"He has a concussion, so he'll be under the protocol and go from there," Colliton said. "Didn't talk to him, but of course we're concerned."

The play happened with 1:30 left in the opening frame when Evander Kane shoved Dylan Strome into the Blackhawks netminder, who appeared to hit the back of his head on the post.


Kane was assessed a goaltender interference penalty and Crawford immediately left the game. He allowed two goals on eight shots before getting replaced by Cam Ward.

Crawford missed 47 games last season because of a concussion, so expect the Blackhawks to take a cautious approach with this situation going forward, given his injury history.

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