Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators 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. Friendly battle between Mike Condon and Scott Darling.
Back in 2014, Condon and Darling formed a bond at a beer-league camp that summer with Maple Leafs goaltender Garret Sparks, an Elmhurst native. They've run it together for three straight years now, and all three have become very close since. When the camp started, none of them had appeared in an NHL game yet, and they all connected by having to overcome difficult odds to do it. Now, Condon, who will make his seventh consecutive start, and Darling, who will start in his 10th straight game, will have the chance to square off against one another after taking advantages of their opportunities in Ottawa and Chicago with the starting goaltenders out. They've both come a long way, and it surely will be a memorable experience for them.
2. Artemi Panarin's chase in the scoring race.
Panarin was named the NHL's first star of the week after scoring three goals and adding seven assists in four games, helping the Blackhawks extend their winning streak to five games. He also stretched his point streak to five games, and upped his point total to 34 on the year, which is tied for third in the league with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jakub Voracek. He's pulled within six points of Connor McDavid for the league lead, making Panarin a darkhorse candidate to win the Art Ross Trophy, an award Patrick Kane took home last season.
3. Erik Karlsson.
The 26-year-old Swedish defenseman had one of the best seasons by a blue liner in NHL history last year, but not many noticed because he played on a non-playoff team. He had 82 points in 82 games, and was a puck possession machine. This year, he's almost at a point-per-game pace with 30 points in 32 games, which leads the team. His skating ability is mesmerizing to watch, and get used to seeing him on the ic a lot. He averages the second-most shifts in the league (32.6) and third-most ice time per game (26:57).
4. How will lines be affected with potential return of Artem Anisimov?
Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza didn't have the best possession numbers in Sunday's 4-1 win over San Jose, but both of them made a big impact on the scoresheet at a crucial moment with each potting a goal and an assist in the third period. Hinostroza did a fine job centering that second line, but if Anisimov, who's listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, is cleared to play, expect Hinostroza to be bumped back to the fourth line with Tyler Motte and either Andrew Desjardins or Jordin Tootoo.
5. Watch out for flying bodies.
The Senators are not afraid to throw their bodies around. They rank second in the league with 847 hits and have blocked 564 shots this season, which ranks third-most. The Blackhawks are the complete opposite in that department, recording the second-fewests hits with 514. It might get physical, but don't expect the Blackhawks to retaliate much.
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