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For tonight, Friday, October 21st, we can expect Coach Quenneville to make some defensive changes to the lineup. This will mark the Blackhawks’ second back-to-back of the season with a tilt in Columbus. We last saw the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks during the last season when the Blue Jackets recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win 5-4 in overtime—another classic case of giving away the lead by the Blackhawks. With goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky returning to form after starring for Russia at the World Cup of Hockey in September, the Blackhawks need to not only improve on defense, but offense as well if they hope to score some goals.

A Concerning Penalty Kill

Having allowed 17 shorthanded stints through just the first four games (let’s not even talk about opening night—that was a disaster), the Blackhawks aren’t looking too hot in the penalty kill. However, they were able to prevent one in a crucial situation after retaking the lead against the Flyers. While preventing that one shorthand goal, the Blackhawks still have a lot of work to do if they want to stay in the game. Penalties are crucial for the game, and the Blackhawks need a stronger penalty kill if they hope to keep scoring low for the other team.

A Star Line Intact

In Tuesday’s game, the score was tied at 4-4 after the Blackhawks gave up their 4-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ second line (Kane, Panarin, Anisimov) sprung to life, almost as if someone finally set a fire underneath them to stay awake and remain ahead in the game. Artem Anisimov scored at 10:24, Panarin added an insurance goal at 16:03, and, once again, Anisimov sprang to life and sealed the deal with an empty-netter for his fourth point of the night. And, with four points in the night, Anisimov tied a single-game career high.

Quenneville played with the lines and has contemplated splitting this all-star line that provided the most success in each game last season. However, their chemistry shows splitting them would not be a smart move for the Blackhawks. Why break up a line that has shown so much chemistry and on-ice results?

As reported by NHL.com, when asked about the second line, Coach Q stated, “Those guys can do so many good things with each other as far as anticipate, protect the puck, make plays, strip pucks and turning it into something special.” So let’s keep it that way–don’t try to fix what isn’t broken.

A Missing Hossa

We got to see a milestone for Marian Hossa in Tuesday’s game when he scored his 500th career NHL goal. With such a great accomplishment, Hossa dominated the game with Coach Q and teammates speaking highly of the 37-year old’s latest accomplishment. However, Hossa sustained an injury in the third period that ended his celebrations early. Hossa did not attend practice and is ruled out for tonight’s game against Columbus. Ryan Hartman will return after back injury and will likely take Hossa’s spot on the third line with Nick Schmaltz and Vinnie Hinostroza.

A Swap in the Blue Line

In tonight’s stint against Columbus, Quenneville will likely swap the blue line around—no, not the public transportation line in Chicago. With TVR likely to draw in for Brian Campbell on the third pairing alongside Gustav Forsling, we hope to see an improved penalty kill—TVR led the team in blocked shots last season with 155.

According to Coach Q, “baby steps” are being taken from game-to-game early in the season, so let’s hope the Blackhawks find their stride soon. What do you expect to see in tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets? Do you think the Blackhawks can improve on their penalty kill?

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