Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Stars in divisional showdown


Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Stars in divisional showdown

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars Thursday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Can Patrick Sharp stay hot against former team?

After going pointless in his previous 16 games, Sharp has three points (one goal, two assists) in his last two and had the most ice time (15:30) Tuesday in Nashville since Oct. 19 when he logged 16:17 vs. Edmonton. He even saw some power play time after being taken off it during his scoring drought.

Sharp, who spent two years with the Stars after being traded by the Blackhawks in the 2015 offseason, has also had great success against his former team. In 38 career games against Dallas, he has 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists), 13 of which (six goals, seven assists) have come on the man advantage.

Look for No. 10 in red to play with a little extra juice as his confidence continues to grow.

2. What's the deal with Richard Panik?

For three straight games, Panik has seen his ice time diminish significantly, going from 16:38 vs. Florida to 14:36 vs. Anaheim to a season-low 8:14 vs. Nashville, eight days after he logged only 12:28 against Tampa Bay which was his previous season low.

Despite all that, Joel Quenneville has not taken Panik off the top line because this is as balanced a four-line rotation the Blackhawks have had all season. But will that change soon in favor of a guy like Alex DeBrincat, who deserves to be playing top-six minutes after accumulating 13 points (nine goals, four assists) in 12 games this month? 

The concern there would be taking some offensive fire power off the third line and being too top heavy, but it's worth keeping an eye on. Perhaps a second straight loss would force Quenneville to consider tinkering.

3. Look out for hat tricks.

Word of advice: If you're attending this game, bring a hat you don't mind throwing on the ice because we may have another hat trick on our hands.

There has been a hat trick at the United Center in three straight games — Miles Wood (New Jersey) on Nov. 12, Artem Anisimov on Nov. 15 and Alex DeBrincat on Monday — and to go along with that, the Stars are coming off back-to-back hat-trick games.

Tyler Seguin had one last Friday in a 6-4 win over Calgary while Radek Faksa had a natural hat trick in a span of 6:46 in Tuesday's 3-0 victory over Vegas.

What are the odds it'll be four straight in Chicago?

Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season


Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season

Eddie Olczyk joins Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers to discuss what went wrong for the Blackhawks this season, and what changes could happen this summer to get the team back into the postseason.

Listen to the entire HawksTalk Podcast here:

Amazing news: Eddie Olczyk is cancer-free

Amazing news: Eddie Olczyk is cancer-free

Eddie Olczyk is cancer-free!

The beloved Blackhawks broadcaster provided an update on his health after a battle with cancer and had the best news possible.

His scan scheduled for early-April was moved up and the results brought good news:

"I'm proud to stand here before everybody and you [Pat Foley] — my partner and my friend — that all the cancer is gone," Olyczyk said. "We beat this thing, and I say 'we' because it has been a team effort. Not only from the great doctors, but from this organization, from Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough, Jay Blunk, Coach Q, hockey operations, these great trainers, our broadcasters, you partner for all the texts and visits daily, the National Hockey League, all my friends and my family: my brothers Ricky and Randy, my mom and dad, and of course, my four kids — Eddie, Tommy, Zandra and Nicky and my beautiful wife Diana. If it wasn't for them, there's no way I could've gotten through this.

"So I believe we all beat this and I'm so thankful for all the support and prayers. They worked. I'm proud to stand here before everybody and let them know that we beat this thing. I've had enough crying to last me a lifetime, partner, and I'm just so excited that I got that call on March 14th at 5:07 p.m. letting me know that my scans were clear. I've never heard a better phrase in my life.

"I'm now 10 days on with the rest of my life and that's the way I'm looking at it."