If the Chicago Blackhawks have a “What, you again?” feeling entering tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars, it’s for good reason. We’re barely two months into the season and the two squads play for the third time tonight. They’ll meet for the fourth time next Tuesday in Dallas.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Blackhawks are back at home after that seemingly endless trek on the road, and they want to bring the same intensity, energy and success back to the United Center. They’ll try to do it without Michal Handzus, who is sick today. Sheldon Brookbank will be back on the third-line wing.
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So while the Stars and Blackhawks meet once again within a week, we try to come up with Five (different) Things to watch for in tonight’s game.
1. Bring the road home. The Blackhawks finished their trip by playing a strong road game, even though they seemed to have a home-crowd edge in a few of those buildings. They want to bring that road mentality back to the United Center, avoiding the pretty, over-stylish game. “That’s the dangerous thing. You don’t want to come home and relax,” goaltender Corey Crawford said. “We want to make sure we’re ready to go.”
2. Tyler Seguin is out tonight as the former Boston forward/former Patrick Kane Swiss teammate deals with concussion-like symptoms. But he didn’t give the Blackhawks the biggest fits in Friday’s game. That honor was shared by, among others, Rich Peverley and Jamie Benn. The two combined for 10 shots, and Benn had seven of them. The Blackhawks will try to limit their opportunities tonight.
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3. Keep the defense involved offensively. The Blackhawks’ blue liners have been all over the place, be it blocking shots, keeping opponents off the scoreboard or getting on the score sheet. The more they factor into things, the more success the Blackhawks have found — please see Duncan Keith, among others.
4. Attack the Stars’ defense. The Stars are missing a big piece of their defensive puzzle in Stephane Robidas, who is out for several months after suffering that horrible leg fracture against the Blackhawks on Friday. The Stars will step up in his absence, but his absence is nevertheless a key one. The Blackhawks need to take advantage of the veteran not being there.
5. Our pick to click this evening: Brent Seabrook, just because we have a hunch.