Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Anaheim Ducks today on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 2:30 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. No Jonathan Toews.
The Blackhawks captain will not play this afternoon due to an upper-body injury he suffered during Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. It's an opportunity for the younger guys to step up in a significant role, but there's no denying that leaves a gaping hole up the middle. Without him, the top line at Thursday's practice consisted of Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza and Marian Hossa while Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane anchored the second line. It's all hands on deck without No. 19.
2. Win at the dot.
The Ducks are by far the best team at the faceoff circle this season, winning 56.5 percent of their draws. The Blackhawks rank No. 17 at 49.5 percent. With Toews officially ruled out, this could be a huge area of concern. He leads the league with 292 wins at the dot, and owns a 60.3 win percentage. No other Blackhawks center has won more than 50 percent of his draws.
3. Tight defense.
The Ducks are 9-0-0 when scoring three or more goals in a game, and are 0-7-4 when they score two or fewer. The Blackhawks have scored at least two goals in every game except three, two of which have been shutouts. If the Blackhawks can manage to keep it a low-scoring affair, they should be in good shape. If they try and play run-and-gun with the Ducks, they could find themselves in some trouble, especially since they'll be without Toews.
4. Falling behind.
The Blackhawks have been outscored 5-0 in the first period — and 8-1 in the first two periods — over their last three games. They're playing with fire by digging themselves into an early hole and it's asking a lot to keep relying on third-period comebacks to pick up points. Both teams have lost their last two contests, so expect a fast-paced game right from the get-go.
5. Beware of Corey Perry's goal drought.
Perry led the Ducks with 34 goals last season, and it wasn't even close; the next closest was Ryan Kesler with 21. Perry leads the club with 16 points this year, but he's found the back of the net just four times through 20 games and hasn't scored in 12 straight. We've recently seen Connor McDavid bust out of a 10-game goal drought by netting his first career NHL hat trick while Auston Matthews snapped a 13-game slump by scoring twice on Wednesday. One goal could open up the flood gates for Perry, so it may be best to make sure he's not given the opportunity to make the Blackhawks find out.
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