Stars trying to emulate Blackhawks as much as possible


Stars trying to emulate Blackhawks as much as possible

Jim Nill said it often, in some form or another, on Saturday. The Dallas Stars have a plan, and that plan includes trying to emulate a certain franchise/trading partner as much as possible.

“I want to say how much respect I have for Chicago,” Nill said. “That’s where we want to get to.”

The Blackhawks have set the bar when it comes to success in the NHL these last few seasons. So in an attempt to beat them, you acquire some of them. That’s what the Stars were looking to do on Friday night, when they traded for Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns and sent Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt to the Blackhawks.

[MORE: Patrick Sharp sad to leave Blackhawks, but looking forward to Stars]

In Johns they get a young, up-and-coming defenseman. But even at 33 years old Sharp is a tremendous gain for the Stars. Dallas is still a young team, still trying to find its way back to the winning years when guys like Mike Modano, Brett Hull, Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov reigned. Sharp brings that winning pedigree and leadership developed during the Blackhawks’ return to greatness.

“You can never have enough guys like that in the organization,” Nill said. “He’s done it at every level, Stanley Cup, world championships. The experience he can bring to a dressing room, he’ll be there to help [Jamie] Benn and [Tyler] Seguin. We want to get to Chicago’s level.”

[MORE: Stan Bowman: Blackhawks add pieces that 'could help us now']

Nill knows it takes the right mix to achieve championships. He spent 15 seasons as assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, who set the standard before the Blackhawks picked up the title-winning torch in recent years. He said he started talking with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman about 4-6 weeks ago and the right fit was finally made on Friday.

“The more we talked, the more we were looking at a hockey trade. He needed something, I needed something, and we both got what we were looking for,” Nill said. “He needed to replace a top-four defenseman. We wanted leadership for a young room.”

As far as the Blackhawks go, in looking for that top-four defenseman replacement, it sounds like Johnny Oduya won’t be back in Chicago. Bowman left the option open when he talked on Friday night but other things – probably another trade – would have to happen. Re-signing Marcus Kruger remains a top priority.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get your Stanley Cup Champs gear!]

The Blackhawks wanted to add to what’s already an established group. The Stars wanted to add veteran leadership to a group that’s still finding its way. The Blackhawks have set the standard for what other teams want to be thanks to drafting, developing and getting the right player or two from free agency/trades. Count the Stars among those striving to hit that mark.

“I came from Detroit, and that’s how we were built also,” Nill said. “That’s where we’re trying to get in Dallas.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?