Maybe it’ll be different? Maybe this time, something will change for the better? Maybe.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers square off for the fifth time this season tonight at the United Center. Chicago is still looking for their first win over the Panthers this season, having gone 0-3-1 in the first four meetings. The Blackhawks are currently sitting in fourth-place in the Central Division, tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets with 33 points but ahead of the Blue Jackets based on points percentage. Florida has a comfortable cushion in third-place ahead of the Blackhawks with 44 points in the standings.
Hopefully the Blackhawks can put on a much better showing tonight than they did on March 9th to honor star winger Patrick Kane reaching 1,000 career regular season games played. Chicago was trounced 6-1 against the Stars in Dallas on Kane’s actual 1,000th game. But tonight, the Blackhawks honor Kane’s accomplishment at home in front of a “virtual crowd.” Kane is third in the NHL in points this season with 42, trailing Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.
Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH, FS-South, ESPN+
Radio: WGN 720 AM / TUDN 1200 AM
Blackhawks (14-13-5, 33 pts)
DeBrincat – Kämpf – Kane
Kubalík – Suter – Hagel
Janmark – Carpenter – Strome
Entwistle – Söderberg – Kurashev
de Haan – Boqvist
Keith – Murphy
Mitchell – Zadorov
Panthers (20-7-4, 44 pts)
Verhaeghe – Barkov – Duclair
Huberdeau – Wennberg – Hornqvist
Vatrano – Luostarinen – Tippett
Lomberg – Marchment – Acciari
Weegar – Ekblad
Yandle – Stralman
Forsling – Gudas
Brent Seabrook (LTIR – Retirement)
Zack Smith (LTIR – Back)
Andrew Shaw (LTIR – Concussion)
Kirby Dach (LTIR – Wrist)
Alex Nylander (LTIR – Knee)
Jonathan Toews (LTIR – Illness)
Noah Juulsen (IR – Undisclosed)
The Blackhawks are +1.5 point underdogs against the Panthers tonight, and find themselves at +155 on the moneyline according to the DraftKings Illinois Sportsbook. You can go right here to sign up and make a bet.
What To Watch For
• Patrick Kane will be celebrating his 1,000th NHL game tonight, even though his actual 1,000th game was played on March 9th in Dallas. This is the first time the Blackhawks have been at the United Center since then. Kane was held off the score sheet for two consecutive games against the Tampa Bay Lightning last week. This was just the second time this season where Kane had not registered a point in back-to-back games. He has only one three-game stretch without registering a point over the past two and a half seasons, coming on October 22-26, 2019.
• MacKenzie Entwistle makes his NHL debut with the Blackhawks tonight. He was acquired by Chicago in the Marian Hossa trade with the Arizona Coyotes in the summer of 2018. Entwistle has played the last season and a half with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL, where he has 31 points in 68 career games. He will become the seventh player to make their NHL debut with the Blackhawks this season.
• Kevin Lankinen gets the start tonight for Chicago. He is 1-4-1 in his last six starts with a .887 save percentage and has allowed 22 goals over that time. He has a 10-7-4 record on the year with a .914 save percentage and a 2.87 GAA. He has allowed 13 goals in three starts against the Panthers this season, going 0-2-1 in those games.
• Chris Driedger gets the nod for the Panthers over usual starter Sergei Bobrovsky. Driedger has an 8-3-2 record this season with a .924 save percentage and a 2.22 GAA in 13 games with the Panthers. He holds a 5-2-1 record since February 15th and is coming off of a 21-save shutout performance against the Nashville Predators on March 20th.
Get Caught Up …
Joel Quenneville's first game back at the United Center was when Patrick Kane was honored for 1,000 points. Quenneville's second game will be tonight when Kane is honored for his 1,000th game. #Blackhawks #1Kane
Quenneville's thoughts on it: pic.twitter.com/M7F6fqySPk
— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) March 23, 2021
Looks like Kevin Lankinen is back starting tonight pic.twitter.com/QEHx1yUk2L
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) March 23, 2021
Colliton on MacKenzie Entwistle: "He’s been getting better as the year goes on here. … He’s been steadily improving here over the last few weeks. He was really good the past two games [in #AHL] so we’re excited to get him in here and see if he can give us a spark." #Blackhawks
— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) March 23, 2021
Driedger in net tonight, per Coach Q.
There will also be a few lineup changes up front.
Sounds like defense will be the same.
— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) March 23, 2021