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.”