Hawks vs. Lightning Preview: It’s Definitely Not 2015

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CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: Jonathan Toews #19 congratulates Duncan Keith #2 of the Chicago Blackhawks after receiving the Conn Smythe trophy after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 2-0 in Game Six to win the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

by Scott King

The Blackhawks will be facing off against a familiar team Tuesday night at the United Center. The Tampa Bay Lightning were more than a formidable opponent for the Hawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, but the truth is, neither team is where they were at back then.

The Lightning, who head to Chicago below 500 (21-22-5), sit in last place in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic division. The Hawks, currently tied for first in the Central, have been struggling to establish consistency on all season long despite resting near the top of the standings.

Select players have carried Chicago at times: Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov, Artemi Panarin, Marian Hossa and both goaltenders have stepped up the majority of the season, but this Blackhawks team hasn’t shown many glimpses of the killer instinct the 2015 Hawks possessed.

“It was a special time in 2015 playing them and winning the Stanley Cup, but that’s a couple years ago now,” 2015 playoff MVP Duncan Keith said. “Both teams are different, ours probably a bit more than theirs.

“Every time a new year comes around, it’s a new season, a new start, new games, new challenges. Of course it’s always unique to be on the ice with a team that you beat in the Stanley Cup Final, but like I said, that was a couple years ago. I’m sure they’ve moved on and we’re trying to go for another one here.”

Hawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk isn’t going to take this Lightning team lightly, no matter where they are in the standings.

“It’s obviously a great memory,” van Riemsdyk said. “But they’ve got a great team now and it’s going to be tough playing against them, we have to come out ready to play.”

“I knew they had some injuries,” Brian Campbell said. “Obviously you look at their lineup, I’ve played them a lot in the last few years, they’re missing some guys. But they’ve still got a dangerous team and they’re well-coached.

“I know they’ve had a tough road trip, but these are the games where if we take them any which way lightly, you’re going to be in trouble. Teams are too good in this league, with that skill up front there and even on the back end, it’s going to be a tough game.”

Big Number For Campbell

Sunday night vs. Vancouver Brian Campbell grabbed his 500th career NHL point assisting on a Richard Panik goal.

“I think it’d be special any which way, but it’s obviously nice to be able to do it here. It meant a lot for me. Long career, keep going, keep pushing. To get that was pretty nice.”

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