Blackhawks prep to see Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Stars


Blackhawks prep to see Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Stars

The Blackhawks had barely wrapped up their victory over San Jose on Sunday night when the obvious topic came up.

Time to go see Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya, two friends and former teammates who helped win a few Stanley Cups in Chicago and would like to do the same in Dallas with the Stars.

“The two of them are definitely fitting in with that group from the games I’ve been able to watch,” Jonathan Toews said. “Obviously two guys, two players on and off the ice we miss a great deal in this room. At the end of the day, other than Tuesday, we’re happy to see them doing well. But it should be fun to go up against those guys.”

It should be entertaining when the Blackhawks and Stars have their first regular-season meeting on Tuesday night. It’s a matchup of two of the Central Division’s best, one team that’s become a perennial postseason player and the other that’s trying to return to that status.

Current Blackhawks playing former Blackhawks in recent years isn’t a new concept. In the salary-cap era, it’s become commonplace. And considering they’re coming off another Stanley Cup run, the Blackhawks are still the ones targeted.

But at this moment, the Stars are the team to beat.

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“It’ll be a great measuring stick for us, knowing Dallas is the top team in the league,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They’ve got a lot of things going for them. They’re fast, skilled and they attack. We have some familiarity with a couple of guys as well, so it should make for a good finish going into the break.”

Dallas was the first team to 50 points this season, winning with a combination of high-octane offense that Sharp has added to and a defense that Oduya has helped bolster. The Stars lead the league in goals per game with 3.42 a contest. Where they’ve improved the most, however, is in goals against. Last season they allowed 3.13 a game. This season, they’ve allowed just 2.55 a game.

The Blackhawks won’t get a chance to see their former teammates much; the Stars play in Minnesota on Monday night. But the reunion, brief as it is, will nevertheless be a good one.

On the ice, it should certainly be an entertaining one.

“They’re a high-energy team with a lot of speed and skill,” Andrew Shaw said. “So it should be a fun one.”

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona


Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns


Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!