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Blackhawks finish Florida fling against Panthers

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Time for a new win streak!

NHL: Florida Panthers at Chicago Blackhawks Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

After a few days off for Thanksgiving, the Chicago Blackhawks return to the ice Saturday night for a matchup with the Florida Panthers.

The Blackhawks had one of their best periods of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the league’s best teams. Florida is on the opposite end of the league standings, though.

Similar to the Lightning, the Panthers have a dynamic top line that will be its biggest threat. Center Aleksander Barkov has Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgeni Dadonov on his wings, with that trio combining for 59 points this season. The Panthers’ second line also boasts center Vincent Trocheck, who leads the Panthers with 9 goals and 13 assists. Behind those four, though, is a lack of offensive firepower that is part of the reason why Florida resides near the Atlantic Division basement.

One of the Panthers’ biggest struggles have come on special teams. Florida’s power play is tied for 25th in the league with a 16% success rate, while it’s penalty kill has a 73.2% success rate, good for 30th in the league. Chicago, meanwhile, has the league’s No. 23 power play (16.5%) and No. 5 penalty kill (84.8%).

Robert Luongo projects as the goalie for the Panthers on Saturday night, with Florida having having the last two nights off. And that’s a good sign for the the Panthers, with Luongo losing just once in his last five outings and posting a 2.11 GAA and .944 SA% since returning from a hand injury on November 4. He also has the best Twitter account in hockey. Luongo’s backup, James Reimer, has had a rough go this season: .888 SA%, 3.70 GAA.

For the Blackhawks, they still have a roster loaded with players in the middle of scoring droughts, although two goals from Patrick Kane on Wednesday night suggest he’s closest to breaking out of his. But names like Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad, among others, have been noticeable absent from the box score.

With no morning skate, the lineup remains mostly speculative but is expected to remain the same for Chicago, with Corey Crawford setting up in goal. Florida has a few game-time decisions based on players who could be returning from injury, including former Hawk Radim Vrbata.


Position Players
Position Players
F1 Brandan Saad - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik
F2 Nick Schmaltz - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
F3 Patrick Sharp - Ryan Hartman - Alex DeBrincat
F4 Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - John Hayden
D1 Duncan Keith - Cody Franson
D2 Connor Murphy - Brent Seabrook
D3 Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta
Goaltender Anton Forsberg


Position Players
Position Players
F1 Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgeni Dadonov
F2 Henrik Haapala - Vincent Trocheck - Nick Bjugstad
F3 Jamie McGinn - Jared McCann - Colton Sceviour
F4 Micheal Haley - Chase Balisy - Connor Brickley
D1 Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad
D2 Michael Matheson - Mark Pysyk
D3 Ian McCoshen - MacKenzie Weegar
Goaltender Roberto Luongo

How to watch Blackhawks at Panthers

Start time: 6 p.m. CT

Location: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

TV: NBC Sports Chicago