The Chicago Blackhawks will play their final home game of November on Sunday night when they take on the Dallas Stars, and they will be doing so with several stories to keep an eye on during the game.
The first and most notable of evening is the fact that Brad Richards will be playing in his 1,000th career NHL game. He began his career in 2000, and since then he has only missed 47 games over that span. He is one of two Blackhawks players who have reached the 1,000-game plateau, with Marian Hossa hitting the milestone in March 2013.
The Blackhawks will also have a fresh face in the lineup on Sunday night, as Joakim Nordstrom makes his 2014-15 debut with the team. He was recalled on Saturday afternoon in place of center Peter Regin, who was sent back down to the Rockford IceHogs. Nordstrom was named the captain of the IceHogs earlier this season, and he has had a solid season so far in the AHL, scoring five goals and dishing out three assists in 14 games.
Daniel Carcillo will also be back in the lineup for the Blackhawks on Sunday night after missing a big chunk of the season with a lower body injury. He was skating with the team’s third line in practice on Saturday, so it would appear that he will be thrown back into the fire pretty quickly as the Hawks look to rebound from a disappointing loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.
In order to do that, the Blackhawks are going to have to do one simple thing: take care of the puck. Against the Wings, the Blackhawks committed three mind-boggling turnovers that led directly to Red Wings goals, and Quenneville was forced to take some drastic action as a result. He benched Kris Versteeg for a huge chunk of the first period after his turnover led to the first Detroit goal of the evening, and Patrick Kane sat out a couple of shifts when he committed a turnover in the second period.
Both forwards committed a cardinal sin on their turnovers: they passed into the middle of the ice in front of the goaltender. It’s something that’s hammered into the heads of hockey players from the time they lace up skates, but for some reason the Hawks played a careless and undisciplined game at a very bad time.
At any rate, the Hawks will be facing a team that hasn’t exactly been blowing the doors off anyone in the league. After a promising off-season that included bringing in Jason Spezza via trade, the Stars have lost eight of their last 10 games, and they have fallen all the way into last place in the Central Division. They’ve been getting incredible production from players like Tyler Seguin, but a lack of offensive depth and plenty of defensive lapses have really hurt them in their second year with Lindy Ruff at the helm.
If the Hawks are going to win this game, they will have to make sure to play strong defense against that top Dallas line. Seguin is a matchup nightmare, but players like Marcus Kruger will likely be deployed against him frequently. Potentially adding Nordstrom to that line, along with Kruger and Ben Smith, could be a really smart move for Quenneville to consider.