When the Blackhawks play in Florida on Thursday, it will be as much a reunion as it will be a hockey game.
Former Hawks GM Dale Tallon has taken his talents to South Beach, and has collected some familiar faces to Blackhawks fans. Heading into Thursday night, the top two scorers on the Panthers roster are Brian Campbell with 11 assists and Kris Versteeg, who has five goals and six assists. Jack Skille has just one assist in 11 games, but has been skating better than 12 minutes per night. Tomas Kopecky is injured, though, and might miss the game.
Florida looks nothing like they did last year, and the standings are reflecting Tallon’s summer. The Panthers are second in the Southeast Division with 13 points (6-4-1), and have been playing much better than they did at any time last year.
Part of that change has come between the pipes. Florida let Tomas Vokoun walk away as a free agent, and the job appears to have been grasped by top prospect Jacob Markstrom (2-2-0, 2.11, .945).
For Chicago, Thursday will mark the homecoming of Michael Frolik to the arena in which he posted consecutive 20-goal seasons. He has established himself as a threat on the Hawks third line, and the Hawks have clearly won that trade to date.