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Game Preview: Blackhawks travel to D.C. to face Capitals

by Brad Boron / Chicago Blackhawks
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Throughout the 2013 preseason, will preview each game with players to watch, notes and more.

The Blackhawks head out east for their first road contest of the preseason, taking on the Washington Capitals in D.C.

Last Season: The Blackhawks and Caps did not face one another in the shortened 2012-13 season. Chicago won the teams' last matchup, a 5-2 affair on March 18, 2012, as Andrew Shaw scored three points (2G, 1A) in the victory.

Three Stars (players to watch):

Jonathan Toews: After a lower-body injury sidelined the captain for all of the Blackhawks' training camp scrimmages, Head Coach Joel Quenneville said that Toews will travel to face the Capitals Friday. The contest against last season's Southeast Division champs would give the 25-year-old center his first chance at real game play since the Stanley Cup-winning game in June.


6 p.m. CT
VENUE: Verizon Center

Ryan Stanton: One of Rockford's most consistent defensemen last season, Stanton has been in uniform for each of the Blackhawks' first two preseason games so far, showing off his steady style of play and willingness to stick up for teammates. Whether or not he gets the call once again on Friday, the 24-year-old Alberta native has shown his ability to keep up with a high level of opposition, making a strong case to see NHL action in the near future.

Antti Raanta: Coach Q said that Antti Raanta may get his first start in the National Hockey League Friday night, having joined the Blackhawks organization from Finland in the summer. The 24-year-old goaltender earned a 21-10-11 record with five shutouts, a 1.85 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in 45 games last season with Assat Pori. Raanta led the league in GAA and SV% ranked fifth in shutouts, leading his team to the 2013 SM-liiga championship. The Rauma, Finland, native was named to the league’s All-Star team and was honored as the best goaltender as well as Most Valuable Player of both the regular season and the playoffs.

Rising Star (must-watch prospects): With little indication regarding his lineup for Friday, Quenneville could go with any number of centermen behind Jonathan Toews. 2011's top picks Phillip Danault and Mark McNeill have yet to see action this preseason, and Joakim Nordstrom was out of the lineup Thursday night. Any or all of them may see the ice, as fewer NHL regulars generally tend to travel to road preseason contests.

Know the enemy (opponent report): Coming into their fourth game in six nights, the Capitals open their preseason home slate at Verizon Center on Friday. The Caps' previous three exhibition games were decided by the shootout. Washington’s top line of Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin are all expected to be in the lineup.

Fun Fact: Washington Capitals Head Coach and Hockey Hall of Famer Adam Oates says he was a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks and Bobby Hull growing up. He also was a teammate of the Golden Jet's Hall of Famer son, Brett, in St. Louis.

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