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CHICAGO (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Florida Panthers are hoping to get a big two points against the defending Stanley Cup Champions on Thursday night.
The Chicago Blackhawks will attempt to put together the pieces without reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Duncan Keith when they host the Panthers at the United Center.
A two-time Norris Trophy winner, Keith is expected to miss four-to-six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee.
Like Keith, Jonathan Toews is a three-time Stanley Cup winner and the captain will be looked upon to shoulder even more of the load in his absence.
Toews notched an assist in Chicago’s 4-1 victory over Columbus on Saturday and tallied in both meetings with Florida last season.
The Panthers have seen their offense dry up considerably following their seven-goal outburst in the opener versus Philadelphia.
Florida, which has mustered just 11 tallies in its last five games, received two goals in the third period by a pair of fourth-liners en route to a 3-2 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, CSN Chicago
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-2-1): Florida has been fueled by 43-year-old star Jaromir Jagr (team-leading four goals, seven points) and linemate Aleksander Barkov (three goals, three assists).
The contributions from the top line notwithstanding, Gerard Gallant shuffled Vincent Trocheck to the second line and sent Reilly Smith to the third during Wednesday’s practice.
“I’m not a big guy for changing lines a whole lot, but I thought we were flat (Tuesday) night and I just wanted to switch it up a little bit,” Gallant said
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (3-3-0): While Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson log their fair share of minutes, more will be asked of fellow defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk, Trevor Daley, David Rundblad and Viktor Svedberg.
“I’m thinking we’re going to be ready to go,” Seabrook said. “Losing (Keith), it’s going to be a huge, but guys have to step up.”
Corey Crawford traditionally has done precisely that when facing Florida, posting a 4-1-0 career mark with two shutouts and a 1.48 goals-against average.
- Chicago has won seven straight meetings with Florida.
- Panthers LW Jonathan Huberdeau has just two assists this season and has failed to record a point in four career meetings with the Blackhawks.
- Chicago RW Patrick Kane is tied with rookie LW Artemi Panarin for the team lead with seven points.
The Panthers face the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, October 22nd at 8:30 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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