Five things to watch: Corey Crawford makes his return for Chicago

THN has its five things to watch for the night with the headliner being the return of Corey Crawford to the Chicago Blackhawks net.

The holidays are over and we’re back to normal on the NHL front with ten games scheduled for tonight, one of which features a big return.

Corey Crawford’s return

The Chicago Blackhawks welcome back a familiar face on Thursday night, as Corey Crawford will get the start in net against the New York Islanders. The former second-round pick has been sidelined since Dec.8 with a lower body injury. As a precautionary measure, the Blackhawks will travel to Nassau Coliseum with three goalies on the roster. Antti Raanta and Jason LaBarbera will make the trip, as well as Crawford. The Blackhawks have done well without their star goalie as they sit atop the Central Division, so things could get that much better in Chicago with him.

400 hangover

Alex Ovechkin has been ice cold since potting his 400th goal on December 20th against Carolina, recording just one point in his last five games. The Capitals have just one win in the five games, which just goes to show you how much the team relies on their captain putting the puck in the net. Washington hosts Carolina at home tonight. Perhaps playing the same Hurricanes team that put him at the 400 goal mark will snap Ovechkin out of his funk?

Montoya soaring for Jets

The Winnipeg Jets are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now and it’s thanks to goalie Al Montoya. With Ondrej Pavelec struggling, Montoya has taken the reigns and helped his team on their current three-game winning streak. The 28-year-old Montoya, who is a former first round draft pick, shut out Buffalo on Tuesday and has won his last five games. He’s 8-2-1 on the season with two shutouts and doesn’t look like he’s going to give up the starting role anytime soon. Let’s see how he does tonight against the Ottawa Senators, who looked pretty good against Washington in a 3-1 win on Monday.

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Flyers are road warriors

Remember earlier in the year when everyone in hockey had written off the Flyers? Well, that assessment is a thing of the past, as Philadelphia sits third in the Metropolitan Division, having won four straight and seven of their last ten. The Flyers are currently on a six-game road trip and it’s started out just like they had hoped, winning their first three games. Tonight, they look to keep the streak alive as they travel into Colorado to take on the exciting Avalanche. Claude Giroux looks like the player of old for Philly, recording six goals and 11 assists in his past ten games.

Depth for St. Louis paying off

Somehow, some way, the St.Louis Blues continue to win. They’ve won seven of their last ten and have been without David Backes, Alex Steen and Chris Stewart; all crucial members of the team. Yet, despite the injuries, Ken Hitchcock’s team just goes about its business and continues to play great hockey. THN’s prediction to take the Cup this season will host a struggling Kings team tonight at the Scottrade Center. The Blues will look to Jaden Schwartz, who is on a six-game goal scoring streak, to help them secure a fourth straight win.