Moments like this make them go away. Source: Wthitv.com

Panther Gameday: Here Come The Hawks!

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Moments like these give you ulcers. Source: ChicagoNow.com

See Little Miss Rat Trick, Coach Q isn’t mean all the time!

The Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks riding an eight game winning streak will invade the Bank Atlantic Center tonight to face the Florida Panthers. I have been asked by many since I am from Chicago what, if any team paraphernalia I’ll be wearing.  Guess?

It will be the first game for Michael Frolik against his former teammates since he was traded on February 9th for the currently injured Jack “Crash” Skille.  Frolik has played well as of late and has four points in his last three games, as he seems to be fitting in with the highly skilled Hawks roster.

The Hawks who seemed to have spent much of the season trying to lose their Stanley Cup hangover from the summer are beginning to peak at just the right time.  The eight game winning streak that they are on can be mostly attributed to the play of Captain Serious Jonathan Towes, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp, have produced the most points (50) for a line in the last 13 games when they were put together.  The Hawks are second in the NHL in scoring with 219 goals.

Toews happens to be on a nine game point streak with eight goals and seven assists during that span.  He is the Captains Captain, and on many night’s will put this Blackhawks team on his back, and carry them them to victory.  At the young age of 22 years old, Toews has become quite the leader for this Blackhawks club, and is making some serious noise about being the league MVP.

Also creating some headlines is rookie goaltender Corey Crawford, who has virtually taken the number one job away from veteran Marty Turco with stellar play.  Crawford who toiled in the AHL for five full seasons, appears to be the real deal and is racking up the wins with 26, and has a very solid 2.19 GAA.  Rookie of the year candidate?  Maybe.  Crawford is expected to start tonight which will be his 12th in a row.  Which include four back to back contests in that span.

The Hawks are back to their dangerous ways that led them to their Cup victory last season.  They play a puck possession game, are fast, make crisp passes, and shoot often.  Patrick Sharp besides being the most handsome man in Chicago, is the master of the one-timer.  Thus the name “Sharp-Shooter”.  Duncan Keith the Norris Trophy winning defenceman last year, who lost seven teeth in a playoff game, only to miss one shift, has turned his season of inconsistency around, and is back to his old self.  He suffered a minor hand injury Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs causing him to miss most of the third period, but he is expected to be in the lineup tonight.

What does all this mean for the Florida Panthers? Well, if they aren’t careful and they stand around in awe, the Hawks could end this game early.  Known for quick starts, the Panthers will have to try and slow the Hawks down, and not give up too many early scoring chances.  While Chicago has had some mental lapses earlier in the season, that seems to have changed for now.

The Panthers can’t match the speed of the Hawks, they will have to figure out a way to hang onto the puck longer themselves, and be much smarter with their passing.  Also, staying out of the penalty box for Florida is going to be a good idea as Chicago has the number one power play in the NHL.  This game has the potential to go either way.  A blowout, or a tighter low scoring battle.  Personally I just want to see a good game.

Panther fans, you’ll be able to watch what Dale helped build.  It should give you hope and confidence that the objective is to do the same here.

Here’s the TSN Gameday preview.  Lots of hotness on the Hawks.  Don’t forget to visit Blackhawk Up.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and your rants!

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Tags: Chicago Blackhawks Corey Crawford Florida Panthers Here Come The Hawks Jack Skille Michael Frolik Patirck Sharp Patrick Kane

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