The Florida Panthers have not played a hockey game since August 7th after falling to the New York Islanders in the NHL’s bubble playoff, but they will finally kickoff their 2021 season late as they host the Chicago Blackhawks and Sunday.
The Panthers original opening series against the Dallas Stars was postponed due to the coronavirus. The Blackhawks have already played a game this year but it did not hold much reason to be optimistic as they fell to the defending Stanley Cup Champions the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1.
Now both programs will try to start a fresh slate by forgetting about last season, although Chicago might want to forget about last game as well.
Blackhawks vs Panthers Schedule
- When: Sunday 17th January 2021, 7:00pm ET
- Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL
- How To Watch: NHL
Blackhawks vs Panthers Lines (Vegas)
Blackhawks vs Panthers Preview
Any Positives for Chicago?
It’s never good when you play from behind even in a traditionally close sport like hockey, but falling down 3-0 is a different story. Unfortunately this is exactly what happened to Chicago against the Lightning in just the first period and it even extended into 5-0 before they got a goal late in the third period to avoid being shutout.
As you might have guessed there were not many positives for the Blackhawks in this one. The Lightning outshot them 33-23, outhit them 16-14 and even won more faceoffs by one. Star Right-winger Patrick Kane was essentially non-existent as he recorded the most on ice time out of all his teammates but only got a shot off four times.
The Blackhawks need the 32-year-old veteran to play much better if they are to have any shot at competing given that they will still face the Lightning a lot this season due to the NHL only having teams play within their division this year.
Panthers on Paper
Although we don’t have any stats this year to look up on the Panthers, they still have reason for optimism this season. After losing in the playoffs to the Islanders, they are returning leading points scorer Jonathan Huberdeau and goaltender Sergei Bobrovksy was able to join the team on the ice for the first time the other day. The usual starter for the Panthers will be still listed on injured reserve for the foreseeable future this season but him skating around is a sign of good things to come.
Still, this offense should pick up the slack with the hole in the goalie situation given that three of their top players in point totals did not even average over 20 minutes on the ice. Look for them to be out there just a little bit more on their respective lines in order for this Florida attack to be more potent.
Blackhawks vs Panthers Prediction
I like the Panthers in this one. Without a game to their name I still think they are a more cohesive unit considering what the Lightning just did to the Blackhawks. However because the Panthers aren’t having their starting goalie able to play in this game, I would be the over on the total goals scored if it is in the 3-4 range because of Chicago’s lack of defense as well.
Blackhawks 3 — Panthers 4