The United Center was abuzz for Teuvo Teravainen’s arrival on Friday morning. The 19-year-old has tremendous potential and the Chicago Blackhawks will soon see what he can do after a great season in Finland.
But this isn’t about Teravainen – count this as one of the FEW stories we write today that isn’t. No, this is about the Blackhawks, who have to push through the rest of the regular season without Patrick Kane (left leg) beginning tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. Actually, for at least tonight the Blackhawks will also be sans Bryan Bickell, Brandon Saad (both upper body) and Michal Rozsival (lower body).
Still, the Blackhawks and their retooled lineup want to build off that convincing 4-0 victory they had against the St. Louis Blues. They’ll try to do it against a Carolina team that’s currently 12th in the Eastern Conference. So while Teravainen watches tonight from afar – and by afar we mean somewhere in the United Center – we’ll look at the Five Things to watch for in tonight’s Hurricanes-Blackhawks game.
1. Bring the by-committee mentality.
The Blackhawks, almost to a player, said the same thing about Kane’s absence: they all have to make up for it. The Blackhawks are at their best when their team game is rolling, all four lines are contributing and every player is adding something to the pot. They’ll need that same mentality, and game, tonight.
2. Don’t take the Hurricanes lightly.
Hey, the Nashville Predators weren’t exactly in the thick of the postseason race when they were here last week, either. Yet they made the Blackhawks their personal punching bag in one of Chicago’s worst performances this season. The Blackhawks need to treat the Hurricanes like they’re the Blues: be intense, be tough, be ready from the start and play another 60-minute game.
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3. Bring the energy, Jeremy Morin.
The 22-year-old forward has had a great season in Rockford and tonight he’ll play his first game with the Blackhawks since Dec. 14 vs. Toronto. Morin was on a line with Ben Smith and Peter Regin at Friday morning’s skate, and that line will be expected to bring energy and vigor. Morin, understandably happy to be back, should bring plenty of that himself.
4. Onus may be on you, Corey Crawford.
The Blackhawks’ goaltender is coming off a shutout, his second of the season, against the St. Louis Blues. With several players missing from the lineup, it may take some time for new linemates (in some cases) to adjust. Don’t be surprised if the Hurricanes try to take advantage of that, try to get off to a hot start. Crawford has to be prepared for that.
5. Our pick to click tonight is Marian Hossa.
He’s done well against a few Eastern Conference teams, mostly from his days with the Atlanta Thrashers. We figure he adds to those career numbers vs. Carolina, which include 24 goals and 31 assists in 50 games.