Blackhawks

Corey Crawford, Blackhawks prep for Stars

Corey Crawford, Blackhawks prep for Stars

DALLAS – Corey Crawford will start his sixth consecutive game and the Blackhawks will stick with the same lineup as Thursday when they face the Dallas Stars Saturday night.

The Stars dominated the season series in 2015-16, winning four of five matchups. Each game was a lopsided affair, and the Stars were victorious four times due, in large part, to fast starts. The Blackhawks’ slow starts have been an issue this season, although they haven’t stopped them from four straight games. Still, the Blackhawks want to nip the bad habit now.

“We’ve been sloppy in certain areas, whether it’s clears, whether it’s in the puck area in our own zone at the start and it leads to chances and the momentum going their own way,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We have to find a way to get through it.”

Crawford has allowed just one goal in his last three starts.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Stars have dealt with several key injuries to start this season. That includes former Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who is sidelined with concussion-related issues. But the Stars got a big boost of confidence with their 6-2 victory over St. Louis on Thursday.

“We played better hockey the last two games before that, too, and didn’t get the results we wanted. We felt like that [St. Louis] game was kind of the step in the right direction,” said former Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya. “Obviously we’re back to .500 but we know we need to be better than that. So we have to keep pushing forward. Obviously two big games coming up this weekend.”

Meanwhile, there’s still a good chance forward Andrew Desjardins (lower body) returns to the Blackhawks’ lineup for Sunday’s game against the Stars. Quenneville wouldn’t say who could come out of the lineup for that game.

 

BLACKHAWKS AT DALLAS STARS

7 p.m.

TV: WGN

Radio: WGN 720 AM

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Richard Panik-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Tyler Motte

Dennis Rasmussen-Nick-Schmaltz-Jordin Tootoo

Defensemen

Duncan Keith-Brian Campbell

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Goalie

Corey Crawford

INJURIES: Andrew Desjardins (lower body), Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body).

 

Dallas Stars (via Dallas Morning News)

Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel-Radek Faksa-Jason Spezza

Lauri Korpikoski-Devin Shore-Brett Ritchie

Curtis McKenzie-Gemel Smith-Adam Cracknell

Defensemen

Esa Lindell-John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya-Stephen Johns

Dan Hamhuis-Jordie Benn

Goalie

Antti Niemi

INJURIES: Jiri Hudler (illness), Patrick Sharp (concussion-like symptoms), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)

Hawks Talk Podcast: Predicting who Blackhawks will take at No. 3 overall

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Predicting who Blackhawks will take at No. 3 overall

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Slavko Bekovic and Charlie Roumeliotis react to the Olli Maatta trade and how this impacts the Blackhawks' defensive group. Is this the first of more moves to come?

The guys then break down their top-three candidates for the Blackhawks at No. 3 overall and predict who the pick will be on Friday. They also discuss how the Blackhawks' selection may impact the offseason and the big picture going forward.

0:40 – Initial reaction to the Olli Maatta trade

3:45 – How Maatta fits with the Blackhawks

7:45 – Filling Dominik Kahun’s spot

10:00 – Maatta’s contract situation

11:00 – Our top-3 draft predictions

18:30 – Official predictions on who the Blackhawks will pick

24:30 – Is there a wrong pick in the top 10?

27:30 – If the Blackhawks don’t pick D, the forward is…?

29:30 – How the Blackhawks selections shape the offseason

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

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USA TODAY

How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

The 2019 NHL free agent class — both restricted and unrestricted — is absolutely loaded. But perhaps the biggest fish of them all has already been taken off the board.

Erik Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks have agreed to an eight-year extension worth $11.5 million per year, according to Cap Friendly, becoming the highest-paid defenseman in league history. It’s a significant move for the Sharks, who are looking to keep the band together and take a few more stabs at a Stanley Cup before their window starts to close — Joe Thornton is 39, Joe Pavelski turns 35 in July, Brent Burns is 34, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is 32 and Logan Couture is 30.

How the Sharks make the math work going forward will be fascinating to monitor. Thornton, if he doesn't decide to hang up the skates, is a UFA. Same with Pavelski, who is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career. Both of those players have become part of the Sharks identity, but their futures aren't guaranteed. And then there are guys like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier, both of whom are RFAs and due big raises.

So how does the Karlsson extension impact the Blackhawks and the rest of the Western Conference?

For starters, the UFA defensemen class just got thinner and that could lead to overpayment across the board from teams looking for impact-type blue-liners because general managers that are looking to make a splash don’t want to come away empty-handed. The Blackhawks were never going to be in on Karlsson, but his contract set the market for this year's class and the fact the signing came before the NHL Draft now gives teams that would've been in on Karlsson an opportunity to refocus ahead of the negotiating period.

In the bigger picture, the Sharks just solidified themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders for at least the next couple seasons. While the Karlsson contract may not look the greatest on the back half, given his durability issues, the Sharks had no choice but to offer him a blank check. When healthy, he is a game-changer and a two-time Norris Trophy winner who's still in his prime, and if the Sharks win a title in the next couple years then it was well worth it. You don't let players like him walk.

The Blackhawks are expected to be aggressive over the next several weeks, particularly in free agency but also continuing to explore the trade market. We already saw that when they acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins, a move that could only be the first of many this offseason. The West might be top heavy, but this past season proved that any team can turn it around quickly and the Blackhawks need to do everything in their power to make sure they're one of those teams.

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