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?

Adam Boqvist absorbing as much as he can from Blackhawks veterans in first training camp


Adam Boqvist absorbing as much as he can from Blackhawks veterans in first training camp

When development camp rolled around in mid-July, all eyes were on No. 8 overall pick Adam Boqvist, who had immediately become Chicago's top prospect.

That hasn't been the case in training camp.

We're one week in and the storylines have been dominated by Corey Crawford's status, Connor Murphy's back injury that could now sideline him up to 12 weeks and what it means for the defense, Henri Jokiharju's chances at making the big club and the new forward lines, most notably Brandon Saad being put with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz.

Why? Because all the attention in September is how the Blackhawks are going to bounce back after missing the postseason for the first time since 2007-08. And also, because Boqvist may still be 2-3 years away from playing in the NHL on a full-time basis.

Still, the Blackhawks very much are monitoring his progression this week and view him as a big part of the future. They got their first glimpse of Boqvist in game action in Tuesday's preseason opener vs. Columbus, which admittedly wasn't his best game —  he was on the ice for six shot attempts for and 16 against at even strength, the worst differential on the team — but the most important part of it was simply getting a feel for the pace and the size of the players he's going up against.

"I was a little nervous when I saw Seth Jones, those types of players, I've looked up to them, so that was a little bit [nerve-wracking]," Boqvist said. "But you're there for one thing, so go out and play your best game.

"I think I did pretty well out there. The game was not the best one, but a preseason game is a preseason game, so I hope I can [make] some steps."

Asked how important it was to actually get thrown into a game rather than a team practice or scrimmage, Boqvist didn't undermine it even though it was only a preseason game.

"It's huge," he said. "It's not like back home in Sweden at the juniors. It was a huge difference. How you can defend on smaller ice and when you should go or not go. I've learned a lot from the older guys here and hope they can help me this season."

From development camp to team practices and scrimmages to preseason games, coach Joel Quenneville is impressed with what he sees early on and had some high praise for the 18-year-old defenseman.

"Good, good," he said. "We liked him. We think that he can make some real special plays. Real good patience and play recognition. High end. Terrific shot. Deceptive as well.

"Watching him in the summer as well, he's got a great level of skill, play recognition, patience with possession of the puck. He's going to learn quickly that you got bigger guys, guys that know how to play and hold onto the puck and how to defend those situations in tight areas and with possession against you, so that's one of the learning curves that he's going through. But overall, he's what you call smooth as [Duncan Keith] says or [Patrick Kane] says."

Boqvist will be playing in Thursday's preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings, and will likely play a larger role in it with the top guys on the blue line staying home. It could also be his last one, with the OHL's London Knights season beginning Friday.

The Blackhawks want to make sure Boqvist is maximizing his experience here while he is around the Duncan Keith's and Brent Seabrook's, before taking everything he learned with him to London ahead of a crucial year of development.

"It's so cool to be around these NHL players," Boqvist said. "I try to enjoy so much here and take all the stuff I can from the guys here, so hope they can help me."

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 9: Memorable Canucks series

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 9: Memorable Canucks series

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

After eliminating the Calgary Flames in six games and securing their first playoff series win since 1995-96, the Blackhawks were on to the Western Conference semi-finals, where they would meet the Vancouver Canucks. And what a memorable series this would shape out to be, the start of a terrific rivalry that would develop over the next several years.

The Blackhawks didn't have home-ice advantage this time, but it turns out they didn't need it.

After falling into a 2-1 hole, the Blackhawks evened up the series in Game 4 at the United Center when Andrew Ladd re-directed a Dave Bolland shot in overtime to put the pressure back on the Canucks heading back to Vancouver. It was a pivotal moment in the series, but the turning point may have started late in Game 3.

Although he didn't score until Game 5, Dustin Byfuglien was an absolute wrecking ball and unquestionably got into Roberto Luongo's head with his net-front presence and physicality. 

The Blackhawks locked up Game 5 in Vancouver and returned to Chicago, where they would beat the Canucks 7-5 in Game 6 thanks to a hat-trick by 20-year-old Patrick Kane. It was that night when Kane was coined with the nickname: "Hat-trick Kane."

And of course, who could forget Luongo's postgame press conference when he was moved to tears after accepting blame for the series loss?

Relive the series in the video above.