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Scouting The Enemy: Chicago Blackhawks

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We take a closer look inside Florida's next opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 8:30PM ET, the Florida Panthers will take on the Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago, IL. This is the first of two contests this season between the two, with a rematch on Thursday in BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL.

The last time the Panthers played the Blackhawks was on December 8th, 2013 in Chicago. Dylan Olsen (2) and Marcel Goc (7) were no match for the Hawks, who scored six times on 32 shots against Scott Clemmensen. Patrick Sharp (one goal, two assists), Patrick Kane (three assists), Marian Hossa (one goal, one assist), Brandon Saad (one goal, one assist), Brent Seabrook (one goal, one assist) and Jonathan Toews (two assists) finished with multiple points for Chicago, while Michal Handzus and Andrew Shaw also lit the lamp for the bad guys. Antti Raanta stopped 29 shots for the win. * Box Score

The Panthers haven't earned a victory in the series since March 8th, 2011, on first period markers from David Booth (20), Clay Wilson (1), and Marty Reasoner (14). Kane (22) and Hossa (19) scored for Chicago, who dropped the matchup by a 3-2 final. The Panthers won the game despite being able to only muster up a total of 15 shots, to 39 for the Hawks. Tomas Vokoun stopped 37 of them for the win. * Box Score

Florida has managed only nine wins in 29 tries to this point through their history in the series, against 15 regulation losses, two in overtime, and three ties. Their .397 points percentage ranks as their fourth worst against any team.

Now, a little more about tonight's opponent and their embarrassment of riches. They've got five guys on their first two lines with over 400 career points! That's not fair!

Forward Corps

First Line

20 - Brandon Saad

Saad, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a 22-year-old former second round pick of Chicago in 2011. A 6'1", 202 lb. winger in his fourth NHL season, he's shot above 10% in each of his three full NHL seasons. He's currently gunning at a 12.6% clip.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

186

47

67

114

This Season

60

18

22

40

Last 10 played

10

3

5

8

vs. Florida

2

1

1

2

Assets: Has excellent offensive instincts and natural scoring ability. Skates well and also possesses good NHL size. Puts points on the board with consistency.
Flaws: Could stand to be more selfish and shoot the puck more. Needs more work on his defense. Is inconsistent in terms of utilizing his 6-1, 202-pound frame.
Career Potential: Talented winger with good upside.

19 - Jonathan Toews

Toews, a 6'2", 208 lb. center from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was Chicago's first round pick in 2006, third overall. A 26-year-old eight-year veteran, he's a three-time all-star, a two-time Champion, and the winner of the 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy and the 2013 Frank Selke Trophy.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

544

212

276

488

This Season

60

17

31

48

Last 10 played

10

2

4

6

vs. Florida

10

4

5

9

Assets: Has tremendous hockey sense, vision and athletic ability. Skates extremely well and is very responsible in his own end. Intense, he can plow through heavy traffic areas thanks to his puckhandling skills and strength. Throw in leadership skills and you have the total package.
Flaws: Has a tendency to run a little hot and cold in the goal-scoring department. His competitive, physical style will always be a concern for injury. In fact, he has already had to deal with significant concussion issues in his National Hockey League career.
Career Potential: Elite two-way captain and star center.

81 - Marian Hossa

Hossa, a 6'1", 210 lb. winger from Stara Lubovna, Czechoslovakia, was originally selected with the 12th overall pick in 1997, by the Ottawa Senators. Now 36-years-old and with his fifth NHL team, he's playing in his 17th season at hockey's top level. He's played at such a high level for so long that he's totaled at least 19 points against every other NHL team (he's scored 11 against Chicago, too). His 61 points against Florida is his most against anyone.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

1,150

481

557

1,038

This Season

60

17

26

43

Last 10 played

10

7

2

9

vs. Florida

51

32

29

61

Assets: Is shifty and hard to knock off the puck. Has great hockey sense and a fine set of hands. He's also awesome in all three zones and a tremendous back-checker.
Flaws: Doesn't assert himself physically enough to dominate at crunch time. Also needs to become more of a go-to player in the playoffs. Concussions may be an issue now.
Career Potential: Elite two-way winger, when healthy.


Second Line

10 - Patrick Sharp

Sharp is a 6'1", 199 lb. winger from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Selected in the third round in 2001 by the Philadelphia Flyers, he's a 33-year-old 12-year-veteran in his 10th season with the Blackhawks. He hasn't scored a point in eight games.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

723

243

271

514

This Season

46

10

21

31

Last 10 played

10

0

1

1

vs. Florida

11

3

4

7

Assets: Has plenty of versatility and skill. Skates very well and has the hockey sense to play a top-six role at any forward position. Has an excellent shot and is especially dangerous coming down the wing on the outside due to his speed. Kills penalties with aplomb.
Flaws: Tends to wear down over the course of the long National Hockey League season. Is better when playing a wing position than at center, where he struggles with face-offs and overall defensive positioning. Can go into prolonged scoring slumps, too.
Career Potential: Quality, versatile veteran scoring forward.

91 - Brad Richards

Richards is a 34-year-old pivot from Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island. 6' and 196 lbs., he was a third round selection in 1998 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Hawks are the fourth NHL team for the 14-year-veteran.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

1,039

285

613

898

This Season

57

9

22

31

Last 10 played

10

0

2

2

vs. Florida

56

19

31

50

Assets: Has incredible imagination with the puck and excellent playmaking ability. Has good anticipation and functions expertly during pressure situations. Likes to shoot the puck often when playing the point on the power play. Is a leader by example.
Flaws: Isn't big or physical, so he can wear down against bigger opposing centers. Also, he can be a bit too soft at times. His defensive game has regressed a little bit over time. Has never been a particularly swift skater or very vocal leader, either.
Career Potential: Savvy veteran scoring center.

88 - Patrick Kane

Kane is a 5'11", 181 lb. winger from Buffalo, New York, and the first overall pick in 2007 by Chicago. Now in his eighth season, the 26-year-old has played in four all-star games and won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2008 and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013. He currently leads the NHL with 64 points.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

575

205

352

557

This Season

60

37

37

64

Last 10 played

10

2

6

8

vs. Florida

10

5

9

14

Assets: Has exceptional hockey sense. Is as good as it gets in the playmaking department and he's a deadly shooter, too. Has superb stickhandling skills. Makes his teammates around him better. Is supremely confident in his abilities. Has a strong, explosive skating stride. Can play wing or center.
Flaws: His smallish stature can hurt him in tight-checking games and against bigger opponents, and it can also lead to injuries. Is not as good without the puck as he is with it--he can be accused of playing perimeter hockey sometimes. Could use more strength.
Career Potential: Elite playmaker with versatility.


Third Line

29 - Brian Bickell

Bickell, a 6'4", 233 lb. winger from Bowmanville, Ontario, is a second round pick of Chicago in 2004. The 28-year-old is in his ninth NHL season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

339

62

67

129

This Season

60

11

13

24

Last 10 played

10

2

1

3

vs. Florida

4

1

1

2

Assets: Has great size and strength for the wing position. Is defensively responsible in his own zone, and can dominate along the boards. Has an excellent wrist shot and some untapped offensive ability.
Flaws: Lacks consistency. May never meet offensive expectations because of average skating ability. Must always use his 6-4 frame to his advantage in order to be an effective winger, but he forgets that sometimes.
Career Potential: Depth power winger with great size.

65 - Andrew Shaw

Shaw is a 23-year-old, 5'10", 180 lb. center from Belleville, Ontario. He was selected by the Blackhawks in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, and is now in his fourth NHL season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

222

50

42

92

This Season

57

9

6

15

Last 10 played

10

0

0

0

vs. Florida

3

1

1

2

Assets: Displays a very good work rate and two-way acumen. Enjoys agitating opponents and throwing them off their game. Also displays versatility up front.
Flaws: Will be hard-pressed to match his junior scoring totals at the National Hockey League level. Lacks ideal NHL size. Needs more work on his skating.
Career Potential: Agitating two-way forward with a little upside.

23 - Kris Versteeg

Versteeg is a 28-year-old, 5'11", 183 lb. winger from Lethbridge, Alberta. He was initially selected by the Boston Bruins in the fifth round in 2004 and made his NHL debut in 2008 with Chicago. Since his first appearance, he has made stops with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Panthers. He's now playing in his eighth NHL season.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

452

114

157

271

This Season

40

12

18

30

Last 10 played

10

3

2

5

vs. Florida

9

1

5

6

Assets: Has excellent offensive instincts and is a good dangler with the puck. Sneaky, he gets around the offensive zone and has a nose for the net with a pretty good wrister. Is also decent without the puck and in the defensive zone.
Flaws: Is smallish by NHL standards, and as a result has difficulty winning corner battles in the big league due to a lack of strength. Can be a bit inconsistent in terms of his overall play at times. Has limitations on offense.
Career Potential: Solid, versatile scoring forward.

Fourth Line

42 - Joakim Nordstrom

Nordstrom is a 6'1", 160 lb. natural center from Stockholm, Sweden. The 22-year-old second year player was picked in the third round of the 2010 draft by Chicago.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

40

1

4

5

This Season

24

0

2

2

Last 10 played

10

0

0

0

vs. Florida

0

0

0

0

Assets: Owns a very projectable frame and plenty of lineup versatility, mainly due to his polished two-way game. Can kill penalties and play both winger and center.
Flaws: The jury is still out on his long-range scoring upside. Also, he needs to add more bulk in order to withstand the rigors of the National Hockey League.
Career Potential: Versatile two-way forward with a little upside.

16 - Marcus Kruger

Kruger is a 24-year-old fifth year player from Stockholm, Sweden. The 6', 181 lb. pivot was a fifth round pick of the Blackhawks in 2009.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

266

26

54

80

This Season

60

5

8

13

Last 10 played

10

1

0

1

vs. Florida

5

0

0

0

Assets: Has an abundance of two-way ability and very good puck skills. Reads the play well and is very heady. Kills penalties with aplomb. Can score goals, too.
Flaws: Lacks both size and strength, which can hinder his chances of thriving on the smaller North American ice. Needs to display more consistency from game to game.
Career Potential: Two-way center with some upside.

28 - Ben Smith

Smith is a 5'11", 207 lb. winger from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The 26-year-old, five-year veteran was a sixth round pick of Chicago in 2008.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

153

23

16

39

This Season

58

5

4

9

Last 10 played

10

0

0

0

vs. Florida

3

0

0

0

Assets: Is versatile up front and has good skating ability. Is also fairly strong, due to a strong lower base. Is courageous and will work his way into the tough scoring areas. Has two-way upside.
Flaws: Lacks high-end offensive skills, and also lacks ideal size for the National Hockey League game. Is not a physical player. Needs to find his niche in the NHL.
Career Potential: Versatile depth forward with a little upside.

Defensemen

First Pairing

2 - Duncan Keith

Keith, Chicago's second round choice in 2002, is a 31-year-old, 6'1", 200 lb. blueliner from Winnipeg, Manitoba in his 10th NHL season. The three-time all-star won the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2010 and 2014.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

745

72

333

405

This Season

59

7

28

35

Last 10 played

10

0

5

5

vs. Florida

10

1

6

7

Assets: Is as good a skater as you can find from the back end. Can log ridiculous amounts of ice time effortlessly. Excels at using his mobility to shut down opposing forwards. Has above-average two-way instincts for the blueline position. Plays a very cerebral game, too.
Flaws: Is a little undersized to play against giant-sized NHL forwards. May not be capable of taking his offensive game to the next level, as he's not a natural power-play quarterback. Could also stand to improve his shot from the point.
Career Potential: Elite all-round defenseman.

5 - David Rundblad

Rundblad is a 6'2", 195 lb. defenseman from Lycksele, Sweden. The 24-year-old was selected 17th overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2009, and is in his fifth NHL season with his third team.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

92

4

17

21

This Season

37

3

9

12

Last 10 played

10

0

3

3

vs. Florida

1

0

1

1

Assets: Has poise and excellent puck-moving and passing acumen--he knows when to dish it off. Can really shoot the disc. Also boasts a good frame to grow into and has plenty of offensive upside.
Flaws: Needs to continue upgrading his skating, as well as make better use of his 6-2 frame. An excellent offensive player, he can't forget about his defensive responsibilities.
Career Potential: Talented puck-moving defenseman with upside.

Second Pairing

4 - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Hjalmarsson is a 6'3", 207 lb. defender from Eksjo, Sweden. The 27-year-old eight-year veteran was picked in the fourth round of the 2005 draft by Chicago.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

447

15

79

94

This Season

60

2

10

12

Last 10 played

10

1

0

1

vs. Florida

8

0

2

2

Assets: Can log big minutes and is adept at shutting opponents down. Has a very solid frame, grit and plenty of puck-moving ability. Gives his all every time he hits the ice.
Flaws: Doesn't own high-end offensive acumen, or the ability to quarterback a power play, so that limits his overall value to his team. Also, he isn't much of an intimidator.
Career Potential: Solid big-minute defenseman.

7 - Brent Seabrook

Seabrook, a 6'3", 221 lb. blueliner from Richmond, British Columbia, was picked 14th overall by the Blackhawks in 2003. The 29-year-old, 10-year veteran just played in his first all-star game, and has missed just 10 games through his entire career.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

741

70

244

314

This Season

60

7

20

27

Last 10 played

10

0

2

2

vs. Florida

11

2

6

8

Assets: Plays in control and without a lot of panic in his own end. Also displays a great combination of size, strength and skating ability. Logs big minutes against the opposition's best. Owns a very big shot and is a solid passer. Has both offensive acumen and shutdown capability.
Flaws: Doesn't use his size (6-3, 221 pounds) nearly enough to intimidate opposing players, mainly because he's not an overly aggressive type by nature. Lacks high-end offensive skills, aside from his big point shot. Can at times leave himself exposed to the big hit.
Career Potential: Excellent all-round defenseman.

Third Pairing

26 - Kyle Cumiskey

Cumiskey is a 5'10", 185 lb. defenseman from Abbotsford, British Columbia. The 28-year-old, six-year veteran was originally chosen in the seventh round of the 2005 draft by the Colorado Avalanche, with whom he played from 2006 through 2011. When he recently joined the team on February 13th, it was his first NHL appearance in just over four years.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

136

9

26

35

This Season

4

0

0

0

Last 10 played

10

0

3

3

vs. Florida

1

0

0

0

Assets: Is very mobile along the blueline and capable of logging big minutes from the back end. Also has some offensive and puck-moving ability.
Flaws: Size will always be an issue for him at the highest level, as he isn't physically strong enough to thrive against NHL forward. Injuries can be an issue here.
Career Potential: Mobile depth defenseman.
32 - Michal Rozsival

Rozsival is a 6'1", 212 lb. defenseman from Vlasim, Czechoslovakia. The 36-year-old, 14-year veteran was initially chosen in the fourth round of the 1996 draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is now playing with his fourth team.

Games

G

A

Pts

Career

873

66

222

288

This Season

48

1

7

8

Last 10 played

10

0

3

3

vs. Florida

36

3

12

15

Assets: Has a good combination of passing kills and hockey sense from the point. Is a good-sized defender with sound mobility. Blocks shots with aplomb. Is savvy.
Flaws: Doesn't always play with optimum intensity. Should make better use of his 6-1, 212-pound frame, since he is at times a little too soft, but he rarely does.
Career Potential: Savvy veteran defenseman.

Goaltenders

Probable Starter

33 - Scott Darling

Darling, a 6'6", 232 lb. goaltender from Lemont, Illinois, was picked in the sixth round of the 2007 draft by the Phoenix Coyotes. The 26-year-old is getting his first look at the NHL level, and will be appearing in his eighth career game tonight.

Games

W

L

OTL

SV%

GAA

SO

Career

7

5

2

0

0.937

1.97

0

This Season

7

5

2

0

0.937

1.97

0

Last 10 played

7

5

2

0

0.937

1.97

0

vs. Florida

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Assets: Is an extremely tall goaltender with the potential to cover most of the net with his body. A resilient type, he has plenty of experience at lower levels.
Flaws: Could stand to add more bulk and fill out his impressive 6-6 frame, so as to make it even harder on shooters to find openings on him. Isn't the quickest 'tender.
Career Potential: Depth goaltender with a little upside.

Probable Backup

50 - Corey Crawford

Crawford, a 30-year-old, 6'2", 208 lb. netminder from Montreal, Quebec, was picked by Chicago in the second round of the 2003 draft. He's now in his eighth NHL season.

Games

W

L

OTL

SV%

GAA

SO

Career

252

138

73

33

0.915

2.36

11

This Season

41

23

14

4

0.918

2.36

1

Last 10 played

7

5

2

0

0.915

2.47

0

vs. Florida

5

3

1

0

0.930

1.88

1

Assets: Has the big-league frame all NHL teams look for in a starting netminder. Also boasts the right demeanor to be a dependable starter. Can come up with spectacular saves at the right time.
Flaws: Is prone to having a bad night in the crease area from time to time. Also, at times his glove hand gets exposed when he's in a slump. His ability to play 60 games regularly is in question, too.
Career Potential: Talented, clutch goaltender.

That's all I got on these guys. Join us later in the gamethread, immediately following for the recat, and tomorrow morning for the AM wrap. Next up for the Cats, these guys again! In Sunrise! See you there!