Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Colorado Avalanche 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. Corey Crawford is back.
After missing 10 games following an appendectomy, Crawford will regain the crease tonight and look to return to top form as quickly as possible. It shouldn't take too long, however, considering he'll do it against an Avalanche team that has lost five in a row, and has scored only two goals in their last four games, including consecutive shutouts. It's a perfect scenario for Crawford, who was 12-6-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .927 save percentage and two shutouts in 20 games before the surgery, to ease back into the action. The Blackhawks were 6-3-1 in his absence.
2. Tanner Kero's season debut.
With Artem Anisimov being placed on injured reserve due to an upper-body injury, Kero was recalled by the Blackhawks and will center the fourth line with Andrew Desjardins and Jordin Tootoo in his season debut. Kero, who leads the Rockford IceHogs with 20 points (seven goals and 13 assists) in 28 games, played in 17 games with the Blackhawks a season ago, recording one goal and two assists, and spending lots of time on the penalty kill. Expect it to be more of the same this time around, especially with Anisimov and Marian Hossa, two of the team's top penalty killers, out.
3. Lines 2-4.
The first line of Artemi Panarin, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane has been dynamic since being united, and it will stay that way. The Blackhawks will be without Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa, both of whom are dealing with upper-body injuries. This is where it gets interesting. The second line will consist of Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza and Tyler Motte, the all-rookie line. It's an indication of the Blackhawks' young depth, but also a testament to how well they're playing and the faith Joel Quenneville has in them to step up in larger roles. Dennis Rasmussen, Marcus Kruger and Richard Panik will make up the third line while Andrew Desjardins, Tanner Kero and Jordin Tootoo round out the fourth.
4. Jonathan Toews' goal drought.
The Blackhawks captain hasn't scored a goal in 13 consecutive games now, but there's a good chance that it could end tonight. In his last three contests against the Avalanche, dating back to last season, Toews found the back of the net in each of those meetings. The last time he faced the Avalanche — a 4-0 win in November — Toews potted the first goal of the game that turned out to be the game winner, which sparked a stretch where he scored in the next two games as well. It also helps that Colorado is giving up a league-worst 3.25 goals per game. Get Chelsea Dagger ready.
5. Point streaks.
Artemi Panarin extended his point streak to six games in Tuesday's loss to Ottawa, which ties a career-long. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith each stretched their point streaks to four games while Vinnie Hinostroza has registered at least a point in three straight games. This divisional matchup has the potential to be a stat-sheet stuffer for the Blackhawks, and there may be room for everyone to grab a point.
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