Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks make final stop at Joe Louis Arena tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks make final stop at Joe Louis Arena tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Detroit Red Wings tonight on CSN and streaming live on Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Last stop at The Joe.

For one last time, Chicago and Detroit will rekindle its rivalry at Joe Louis Arena, which has been the Red Wings home since 1979. The team will move into the new Little Caesars Arena next season. Notable games between the two at The Joe include Game 5 of the Western Conference Final in 2009 that eliminated the up and coming Blackhawks from the postseason. They would get revenge in 2013 by rallying from a 3-1 series deficit to beat Detroit in its building in Game 6, and then closing the deal at home in Game 7 en route to a Stanley Cup. 

2. Pair of 2014 first-round picks square off.

For the first time in their young NHL careers, Dylan Larkin and Nick Schmaltz will go head-to-head in a battle of 2014 first-round selections. Larkin was drafted at No. 15, five picks before the Blackhawks took Schmaltz at No. 20. Larkin made his debut a year before Schmaltz, and was among the league's best rookies in 2016 when he compiled 45 points in 80 games, but has struggled during his sophomore campaign — as has his entire team — with 22 points in 63 games. Schmaltz enters with 19 points in 44 games this year, with 12 of those points coming in his last 10 games.

3. Another back-to-back for Corey Crawford? 

Before this month, the last time Crawford had started in two games in as many days was Dec. 19-20 in 2015. Now he'll do it twice in a week. He did just fine in the second of a back-to-back last Saturday, stopping 32 of 35 shots in a 5-3 win over Nashville. And coming off a four-day break before Thursday's game, Crawford should be well-rested to handle another start less than 24 hours later.

4. Win at the dot.

In Thursday's 1-0 loss to Anaheim, the Blackhawks won only 41 percent of their faceoffs against the No. 1-ranked team at the dot. Tonight, they'll play a Red Wings club that's just as good as the Ducks in that area. They're the fourth-best team at the faceoff circle, winning 52.4 percent of their draws this season, led by Frans Nielsen, who owns a 54.7 percentage. The Blackhawks rank 23rd with a 48.4 percentage, led by Jonathan Toews, who's at 56.9 percent.

5. Score first.

The Red Wings have scored the game's first goal in only 26 of their 65 games this season, the third-fewest total in the league. They've also given up 71 goals in the opening frame; only Colorado (73) has allowed more. That's not very good company. The Blackhawks have the third-most wins when scoring the first goal of the game with 30. That'd be a good way to get back on track after getting blanked by the Ducks last night.

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Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?


Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: