Five Things to watch as Hawks battle Stars

Five Things to watch as Hawks battle Stars
December 10, 2013, 1:30 pm
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After recording a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday, the Blackhawks have hit the road and will face the Dallas Stars tonight. Catch all the action on CSN beginning at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

DALLAS – What, the Chicago Blackhawks are playing these guys again?!

Yes, it seems like the Blackhawks and Dallas Stars have seen a lot of each other lately, probably because they have. Still, there are always changes to address in every new matchup; that holds true with tonight’s game, mainly because of injuries.

We’re all up to speed on the Blackhawks’ situation, with Corey Crawford out three weeks with a groin injury. The Stars have also taken their lumps lately, especially on defense where they’re without veterans Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley. Forward Vernon Fiddler is also out.

What does all this mean for tonight? Well, let’s look at the Five Things to watch for and find out. 

1. Attack the Stars’ defense. As we mentioned above, Dallas will be missing two defensive stalwarts for a few weeks. That leaves the Stars much younger, much less experienced along the blue line. The Blackhawks need to exploit that.

[MORE: Konroyd's keys for Blackhawks-Stars]

2. Keep building on that penalty kill. No, the Blackhawks weren’t facing the most productive power play against the Florida Panthers on Sunday night when their kill batted 1.000. But they won’t be doing it again tonight, either. The Stars are a brutal 1-for-42 on their power play at the American Airlines Center. You bolster your penalty-killing confidence any way you can.

3. Now’s your chance, Mr. Raanta. Antti Raanta will be the No. 1 guy in goal, at least for now. We’ll see if that changes, given Crawford being out through (probably) the end of the month. But the one quality Raanta’s had during all this whirlwind fun is calm. He’s been affable out of the net, stoic in it. He’ll need that moving forward. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks don’t want to change too much in front of him. “We want to make sure we’re consistent with how we’re playing. We want to play in the other team’s end as much as possible, but how we play is always important,” Quenneville said. 

[RELATED: Crawford sidelined three weeks]

4. Keep building on that power play, too. Ah, lackluster power play, we hardly remember ya. The Blackhawks were as good on this side of their special teams on Sunday as they were on the penalty kill. Get the Stars in the penalty box, generate some goals on that power play and give yourself some space on the scoreboard.

5. Our pick to click tonight is Andrew Shaw. He was very visible in his return on Sunday night, and we’re seeing his net-front presence leading to production again this evening.