Blackhawks

Blackhawks prep to see Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Stars

patrick-sharp-1221.png

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.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your copy of the One Goal III book]

“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.”

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

The Blackhawks recalled No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach from his AHL conditioning stint on Friday night after he appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs. He missed the first week of training camp with a concussion and the organization wanted him to get a taste of the pro action and back up to speed after not playing in any preseason games, either.

"I enjoyed the experience there," Dach said. "I had a lot of fun. Got to see a couple buddies. It was good for me to get down there and get some pro games under my belt and just feel what the pace is going to be like. It'll be another step up here, but I feel good and I feel like I'm ready to go."

Whether Dach makes his NHL debut on Sunday against the Washington Capitals won't be revealed by head coach Jeremy Colliton until after morning skate on Sunday. But where does he fit into the lineup going forward?

The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 in their past three games and aren't necessarily looking to shake up their rotation, even though they're still searching for consistency on all four lines.

The easy answer is for Dach to slide into a third-line center role behind Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, but the trio of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad has undoubtedly been the most consistent for the Blackhawks this season. And we saw in the home opener what happened when they were separated. 

The Blackhawks held an optional practice on Saturday morning and didn't run through line rushes, but before Dach was assigned to Rockford, he took several spins on the first line with Toews and alternated with Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat. It's possible Dach starts on the wing, where he can play top-six minutes and not have as much responsibility as a center would.

"I've played wing in previous years, so it's not something that's new to me," Dach said. "At the same time I'm open-minded to just getting into the lineup and helping the team win."

The Blackhawks can give Dach up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

"As a kid you always grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL, so there'll be nerves," Dach said. "But there will also be a lot of excitement. I've just got to do my best to focus on my game and be ready to play whenever my name's called upon by the coaching staff."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

blackhawks_usa_today.jpg
USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis welcome Nick Gismondi into the fold before discussing Friday's win over Columbus. Robin Lehner played stellar and is forming quite a tandem in net with Corey Crawford (4:10), while the DeBrincat/Kane connection is alive and well (6:10), and the Blackhawks' struggles at even strength continued (12:10). Then, the guys react to the breaking news of Kirby Dach's recall from Rockford and discuss where he might fit into this lineup (15:10).

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.