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Game 50 vs Panthers

April 29, 2021, 3:29 AM ET [206 Comments]
Theo Fox
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Game Day

Game 50, April 29:
Blackhawks vs Panthers
7:00pm CST

Records:
Blackhawks, 22-22-5, 49 Pts (6th)
Panthers, 32-14-5, 69 Pts (2nd)

Season Series:
2-3-1

Goals For/Game:
Blackhawks, 2.80 (17th)
Panthers, 3.24 (9th)

Goals Against/Game:
Blackhawks, 3.18 (23rd)
Panthers, 2.73 (12th)

Power Play:
Blackhawks, 35-156, 22.4% (9th)
Panthers, 36-170, 21.2% (14th)

Penalty Kill:
Blackhawks, 104-136, 76.5% (27th)
Panthers, 119-150, 79.3% (18th)

The Panthers projected lineup (per DailyFaceoff.com):

Heponiemi - Barkov - Duclair
Huberdeau - Bennett - Denisenko
Vatrano - Wennberg - Tippett
Lomberg - Lammikko - Gusev

Forsling - Weegar
Kiersted - Montour
Yandle - Nutivaara

Bobrovsky
Driedger

Also available: Noel Acciari (W), Eetu Luostarinen (C), Mason Marchment (W), Cole Schwindt (W), Lucas Wallmark (C), Scott Wilson (W), Kevin Connauton (D), Radko Gudas (D), Noah Juulsen (D), Brady Keeper (D), Anton Stralman (D), Philippe Desrosiers (G), Spencer Knight (G), Samuel Montembeault.

For Florida, Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe are day to day. Aaron Ekblad is on IR. Additionally, neither the Hawks nor the Cats have any players on the NHL COVID-19 Protocol List.

The Blackhawks swept the Panthers the last time they squared off in late March. One could argue that the Panthers lost both games because their franchise player Aleksander Barkov wasn't fit to play.

This evening and Saturday are the final matches of the season with the Cats. The Florida roster is much different in many ways especially given the trade deadline happened after these combatants last met.

Although Barkov is healthy again, top rearguard Ekblad is out for the remainder of the season after a gruesome leg injury. Verhaeghe -- who has been one of the NHL's best surprises -- may still be unavailable.

Sam Bennett, Nikita Gusev, and Brandon Montour are newly acquired. Fresh faces also include Grigori Denisenko, Aleksi Heponiemi, Matt Kiersted, and Spencer Knight. And Lucas Wallmark revisits Chicago.

--

Roster Updates

With Adam Boqvist out of commission for the rest of the season after suffering a broken wrist against the Lightning on Tuesday, Ian Mitchell is almost for certain to take his spot on the blueline.

The D pairs could look like this:

Keith - Mitchell
Kalynuk - Murphy
Zadorov - Stillman
Beaudin

As the Hawks head into the final stretch of games with playoff hopes dwindling more and more, it may be in the team's long-term interest to play the youth which means having Nicolas Beaudin stay in the lineup.

If that thinking is reality, then who sits? It's doubtful Duncan Keith is ever scratched. Nikita Zadorov makes sense as far as being the weakest link but the Hawks could be seeking to trade him this summer.

A viable option to consider is having Connor Murphy sit as he's a virtual lock to be on the team next season so there's no need to showcase him in the last few series. Zadorov, though, is the opposite.

Assuming this plays out:

Keith - Mitchell
Kalynuk - Zadorov
Beaudin - Stillman
Murphy

At forward, Adam Gaudette and Mike Hardman could platoon as the 12th forward with Ryan Carpenter in concussion protocol. It could be argued that all other forwards on the following lines deserve to start:

DeBrincat - Dach - Kane
Hagel - Strome - Kubalik
Hinostroza - Suter - Kurashev
Gaudette/Hardman - Kampf - Connolly

Another option is having Gaudette and Hardman both playing while scratching someone else. Could David Kampf get a maintenance game off? Or perhaps rest a rookie like Philipp Kurashev or Pius Suter?

DeBrincat - Dach - Kane
Hagel - Strome - Kubalik
Hinostroza - Suter - Kurashev
Hardman - Gaudette - Connolly
(scratch Kampf)

Then in net, splitting starts evenly between Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban sounds reasonable rather than riding one to the end. And it may not make sense at this point to work in Collin Delia or Matt Tomkins.

--

Rockford Updates

Starting Lineup

Scoring Recap

1st Goal: Curry (0-1)

Cale Morris played a dump in behind his net but allocated the puck too far up the boards that Turner Elson of the Griffins intercepted and fed Patrick Curry who drove to the net to bury the opening marker.

2nd Goal: McLaughlin (1-1) PP

Dylan McLaughlin was Patrick Kane-esque on the PP managing the puck along the left wall, keeping play alive, and feeding teammates but eventually took a shot himself scoring from the top of the left circle.

3rd Goal: Barber (1-2)

The Griffins took advantage of Isaak Phillips tripping at center ice to create an open lane for an outlet pass to spring Riley Barber down the right flank then up the middle for a wrister between the circles.

4th Goal: Fossier (2-2) PS

Mitchell Fossier scored on a penalty shot that he was awarded as the result of getting hauled down by a Griffins defender after Phillips connected with him on a stretch pass from their defensive zone.

5th Goal: MacLeod (2-3)

Donovan Sebrango started the breakout from the Griffins end by sending Gregor MacLeod on his way with the puck down along the left wall. MacLeod floated a shot into the net as he reached the left circle.

Player Notes

Ivan Nalimov came in relief of Morris in the 3rd period and stoned Taro Hirose on a penalty shot with 2:26 left in the game.

Unheralded D prospect Cole Moberg made his mark standing up opponents along the boards and physically protecting the crease.

--

See you on the boards!

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