After not seeing the Winnipeg Jets all last season, the Chicago Blackhawks now face them for the second time in five days. Ah, the joys of the NHL schedule. But we digress.
The Jets are still fresh in everyone’s mind, and tonight isn’t Jonathan Toews’ homecoming, but rather Michael Frolik’s return to Chicago. So now, let’s review the Five Things to Watch for the latest installment of Jets-Blackhawks.
1. Hello, Fro. Yes, the goal-scorer turned penalty-killer hoping to become a goal-scorer again (confused yet?) is back in Chicago. There’s got to be a certain level of I’ll-show-you for Frolik, who said he was surprised that he got traded from the Blackhawks to the Jets last June. He’s getting an opportunity for a bigger role in Winnipeg, which is what he was hoping to get. He played a strong game against the Blackhawks in Winnipeg, so don’t be surprised if he’s good again tonight. “Every game I feel more comfortable here,” he said. “The system was a little different, so I had to adjust to new things. But I’m getting there; every game I feel better.”
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2. Bringing the road game home. Perhaps the Blackhawks don’t want to replay that first period against the Jets from Saturday but they’ll certainly take the rest of that outing. The Blackhawks played that simple yet effective road game in Winnipeg, something they could use again tonight. If they do that, they’ll pull another victory out against the Jets.
3. Preparing for Montoya. Al Montoya will start his second consecutive game after helping the Jets beat Detroit on Monday night, snapping a three-game losing streak. The Chicago-area native came in to relieve Ondrej Pavelec in Saturday’s game against the Blackhawks, so no big surprises await him. Will the netminder be inspired playing in his hometown? Stay tuned.
4. Let’s go with Toews being the Blackhawks player to click tonight. He’s not returning home to Winnipeg, not facing the onslaught of homecoming questions, not dealing with last weekend’s distractions.
5. Will the Blackhawks have any rust or will they be rejuvenated? They hit the ice on Wednesday morning for the first time since Sunday, with a White House visit and day off in between. The team looked uninspired and a step off against the Calgary Flames, so perhaps that extra day off the ice gets their legs back from last weekend’s back-to-back.