Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Florida Panthers tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. 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. Home sweet home.
The Blackhawks were outshot by a combined total of 65-44 in back-to-back nights against Anaheim and Los Angeles at the end of the Circus Trip, yet still came away with three of four points without their captain Jonathan Toews to close it out. After being away from Chicago for two weeks, the Blackhawks return to the United Center, where they are 8-1-2 compared to 6-5-1 away from it. Expect them to come out with some jump being back in front of their home crowd.
2. How will the Panthers respond to firing of head coach?
In a move that surprised the hockey community, the Panthers relieved Gerard Gallant of his duties Sunday and named general manager Tom Rowe the interim head coach in an effort to search for more consistency. Ongoing philosophical differences between the Panthers front office and Gallant led to the inevitable split, but it was handled poorly and it reportedly isn't sitting well with many of the players. Gallant was well-liked and well-respected, earning the trust of a young locker room from the start. The Panthers have won six of their last 10 games, are a top-10 possession team and remain only two points out of a playoff spot despite being plagued with injuries to their top guys. It was odd timing to part ways, and it will be interesting to see how players respond on the ice to the abrupt change in the midst of a six-game road trip.
3. Roberto Luongo returns to Chicago.
Remember him? Back when he was anchoring the crease for the Vancouver Canucks, Luongo became an easy target for Blackhawks fans after being on the losing end of two straight playoff series losses in 2009 and 2010. The downfall came during an elimination game when he allowed seven goals in Game 6 of the 2009 quarterfinals, prompting this comment about the goal song 'Chelsea Dagger': “I like that song — it’s catchy. I heard it seven times in one game.” All jokes aside, Luongo has actually been sensational against the Blackhawks in the regular season, owning a 16-13-4 career record with a 2.17 goals average, .930 save percentage and five shutouts. The playoffs? Not so much. But luckily for Luongo, it's only November and he always gets up for games in Chicago.
4. Can Vinnie Hinostroza stay hot?
In the last five games, the Blackhawks are controlling 60.2 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when Hinostroza is on the ice. It started in Vancouver, where he made the most of his 10:10 minutes of ice time, which was the fewest on the team, by scoring a goal and two assists in the comeback win. Since then, he hasn't been on the scoresheet, but he's been a possession machine and has done so in a larger role, playing on either the first or second line. With Jonathan Toews listed as questionable due to an upper-body injury, they could use another strong game from the Bartlett, Ill. native.
5. Marian Hossa vs. Jaromir Jagr.
A battle of the ageless wonders: In 3,318 career NHL games, including playoffs, Hossa (37) and Jagr (44) have combined for 1,392 goals (242 game-winners), 1,943 assists, 3,335 points, a plus-618 rating and five Stanley Cups. That's absurd. Appreciate watching these two future Hall of Famers on the same ice together.
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