Goals, goals and more goals: don’t look now, but the Chicago Blackhawks’ offense is clicking like they all said it would eventually. Corey Crawford, fresh off a victory in Winnipeg, will get the start again tonight. Michal Handzus skated solo this morning, but coach Joel Quenneville is uncertain when he’ll return.
And now, since it’s only a few hours until puck drop, we’ll get to the Five Things to watch for tonight against the Calgary Flames.
1. The fourth trio of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith really fueled the offense on Saturday in Winnipeg. You know what that means: when the Blackhawks are rolling four lines, they’re back in the rhythm that catapulted them to so many victories last season. There’s a lot of confidence going through the Blackhawks right now. How much of it shows itself tonight?
2. Patrick Kane: Flames nemesis. A few Blackhawks have solid career point totals against Calgary but Kane tops them all. In 22 career games vs. the Flames, Kane has 11 goals and 13 assists. Kane has gone sans points the past two games, so he’s about due to get on the score sheet again.
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3. Expect angry Flames. Calgary has lost its past two games and four of its last five. The Flames are going to be an angry bunch entering the United Center tonight, and are going to want to take it to the Cup champions in their first meeting this season. The Blackhawks want to beware of Calgary stampeding out of the gate.
4. New goalie alert. Reto Berra will get his first NHL start tonight against the Blackhawks. The Swiss goaltender went 4-3-1 with a 2.66 goals-against average in Abbotsford in this early going. The Blackhawks usually attack early in games, and they’ll definitely want to keep that mentality against the new guy.
5. What is it with the Blackhawks and second periods? Beats us, but in their recent victories that’s where they’ve been separating themselves from the pack, outscoring opponents 23-12 this season. That could continue tonight.