After three days of rest, Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks look to complete the season sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight in the Madhouse. These two teams battled it out just one week ago in Tampa, when Bedard put on an absolute show, registering his first career multi-goal and multi-point game. Kevin Korchinski was able to net his first career NHL goal, and the team once again got a fantastic performance out of goalie Petr Mrazek. Can this team recreate this performance for the home crowd? It will be tough as the team will be missing forwards Taylor Hall, Andreas Athanasiou, and defensemen Jared Tinordi and Nikita Zaitsev.
As we saw in practice yesterday, Reichel will in fact be moving back to the 2C position, but with Hall out again tonight, Tyler Johnson will be filling in on the wing. I’m still 50/50 on the Reichel Center experiment, but right now, with nothing to lose, it's worth trying again to see if he really can be the man to take that job full-time. The backend looks pretty much the same, except for that third pairing. The team will be going with a nice youth movement, with Zaitsev being placed on non-roster for personal reasons. In a corresponding move, the team called up Filip Roos from Rockford, and with the back-to-back coming up this weekend, it would be great to see him get into the lineup and get some NHL minutes in.
Keeping up with the goalie rotation, Petr Mrazek will get the start in net and will look to improve on his 4-3 record and.921 save percentage.
Tampa Bay is coming into this one on a three-game skid, which includes being shut out in their last two games (4-0 to Carolina and 5-0 to St. Louis). This is a team that has Stanley Cup goals, and we can expect them to come out strong and looking for redemption after losing to this Hawks team last week. The team had an optional morning skate today, so as of posting, I haven’t seen any clues on a possible line-up or starting goaltender.
Puck Drop is at 7 p.m. tonight, and this one is going to be an ESPN+/Hulu exclusive, so there will be no standard TV coverage on this one, which has good and bad news. The good news is that no one is listening to Chris Vosters; however, the bad news is that that means it's more than likely going to be Leah Hextall as part of this broadcast crew. This might be a good way to mute the TV and toss on WGN 720 for the call. As always, let's go Hawks!