Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks get first look at Connor McDavid, visit Oilers tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks get first look at Connor McDavid, visit Oilers tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight on CSN and streaming live on Coverage begins at 7:30 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. First look at Connor McDavid.

The Blackhawks missed out on seeing McDavid live in all three meetings against the Oilers last year because they occurred during a time he was recovering from a broken collarbone. And they may be catching him at a bad time — although there probably is never a right one. The 2015 No. 1 overall pick snapped a 10-game goal drought by netting his first career NHL hat trick in Saturday's 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars. He's got a hot stick, and you can also count on McDavid handling the defensive responsibility of trying to slow down Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

2. Take advantage on special teams.

The Oilers are 0-for-15 on the power play over their last six games, and have allowed five goals on the man advantage during their last 23 penalty kills, only a 78.3 percent success rate. They're struggling in that aspect while the Blackhawks are beginning to feel good about themselves after a recent power play drought was snapped in a 3-2 win over Calgary on Friday, when they also killed off all five penalties.

3. Play till the end, again.

Unlike their last opponent in Vancouver, the Oilers are used to jumping out to a quick start as they are tied for second in first-period goals this season with 20. After falling behind 3-0 to the Canucks on Saturday night, the Blackhawks rallied to score three unanswered goals in the third period and capped it off with a 4-3 victory in overtime. They now rank tied for third with 23 third-period goals, and own the fourth-best win percentage (37.5) when trailing after two periods. It could have been an easy time to pack it in during a busy stretch in the schedule, but the Blackhawks stole two points and that could make all the difference in the world when deciding a playoff seed.

4. Brace yourselves.

The Oilers have delivered 479 hits this season, which ranks No. 6, while the Blackhawks rank No. 29 in hits with 288. It's not the Blackhawks' style to be physical, but if they need to be, they will. Expect the Oilers to try and use that to their advantage and knock the Blackhawks off their game.

5. Same lineup?

The Blackhawks made several lineup changes in Vancouver partly because it was the second of a back-to-back, but also because guys like Tyler Motte and Vinnie Hinostroza were cleared to return from their respective injuries. Andrew Desjardins and Jordin Tootoo were healthy scratches up front, and could find themselves watching from the press box again tonight considering Joel Quenneville doesn't like to mess with a winning lineup too much, if at all. Michal Rozsival will probably draw out of the lineup for Gustav Forsling, who was a healthy scratch more-so because of a crowded blue line than his on-ice play. 

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Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown

Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown

In honor of the late executive Jim Johannson, who died unexpectedly in his sleep in January at the age of 53, USA Hockey is hosting a Stars and Stripes Showdown at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan on Sunday, Aug. 26 and three Blackhawks will be participating in it: Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Connor Murphy.

Kane served as USA's captain at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark this past May and set a new American record with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 10 tournament contests, which earned him MVP honors. DeBrincat had one goal and eight assists while Murphy led USA with a plus-7 rating.

Other star-studded headliners participating: Connor Hellebuyck, Seth Jones, Dylan Larkin, Auston Matthews, Charlie McAvoy, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, James van Riemsdyk and Zach Werenski. It's a great group getting together to celebrate the life of Johannson, who was an instrumental part of USA Hockey's program for the last 18 years.

Tickets are being sold for $10 and $15, which you can purchase here. Doors open at 1 p.m. ET with the game starting at 2 p.m.

A few events that will occur throughout the game: a ceremonial puck drop, a live game-worn jersey auction, an online auction featuring game-worn jerseys and autographed NHL memorabilia, special raffles and an opportunity postgame to meet and greet select players and coaches. All proceeds will benefit both the Jim Johannson Legacy Fund of The USA Hockey Foundation and the Ellie Johannson College Fund.

Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19


Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19

Despite missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks will appear on national television a league-high 19 times during the 2018-19 season, NBC Sports announced on Monday. Eleven of them will appear exclusively on NBC or NBCSN, with the other eight on NBC Sports Chicago in the Chicago area.

Eight of the 19 games will also land on "Wednesday Night Hockey," which will replace "Wednesday Night Rivalry" as part of NBC Sports' most diverse exclusive schedule to date that will include a total of 109 games. 

Here are five games to circle from the 11 games that will be aired exclusively on national TV, in order of how they appear on the schedule:

1. The new-look Blues — Nov. 14 vs. St. Louis at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

There might not have been a team in the Central Division that had a stronger offseason than the Blues. After failing to secure a postseason berth for the first time since 2010-11, they went out a traded for top-six center Ryan O'Reilly, signed Tyler Bozak to ensure even more depth down the middle, and added power forwards Patrick Maroon and David Perron to round out their top-nine. Not to mention the offensively skilled Robby Fabbri will be returning to the lineup after missing the entire 2017-18 campaign with an ACL injury. It'll be a nice early test for the Blackhawks.

2. Three Cups vs. three Cups — Dec. 12 vs. Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

Whenever the Blackhawks and Penguins get together it's always a fun battle to watch because there's so much firepower sharing the same sheet of ice: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews. That's five future Hall of Famers right there. There's also the fact that they are tied for most Stanley Cups in the salary cap era with three, adding some extra juice between two teams that don't often see each other.

3. Winter Classic — Jan. 1 vs. Boston at 12 p.m. on NBC at Notre Dame Stadium

For the sixth time in franchise history, the Blackhawks will appear in an outdoor game. But they haven't had much luck in those games, losing four of the previous five, including all three of their Winter Classic appearances. The Bruins are 1-1 in outdoor games and will look to break the .500 mark in a rematch of the memorable 2013 Stanley Cup Final — at least for the city of Chicago — and Original Six showdown.

4. The defending champion Capitals come to town — Jan. 20 at 11:30 a.m. on NBC

Any time the reigning champions visit your city, it's a game you know you can't take off. Especially since it's the Game of the Week. Alex Ovechkin fell one goal shy of hitting the 50-goal mark for the eighth time in his NHL career at age 32 last season, but it was still good enough to win his seventh "Rocket" Richard Trophy. More importantly, he scored 15 goals and added 12 assists in 24 postseason contests to help lead the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs while doing so. He's still the greatest goal scorer in hockey — perhaps even of all time — and that's a reason in and of itself why it's a must-watch, even though in his last game against Chicago he was held without a shot attempt for the first time in his NHL career.

5. Rekindling an old rivalry with Red Wings — Feb. 20 at Detroit at 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Ever since the NHL realigned the divisions in 2013-14, the Blackhawks and Red Wings get to see each other only twice per season — once at home and once on the road. No two teams in NHL history have squared off more than these two, so it's certainly been an adjustment. But fans know how deep this rivalry goes, and every time they do clash, there's a playoff-like atmosphere in the building and you can feel it through your television screen as well. This will likely be no different.

Check out the Blackhawks' full national television schedule here: