For the second game in a row, the Chicago Blackhawks will go up against some familiar faces as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night.
Those players are Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom, both of whom were traded by the Blackhawks to Carolina in September. The players were dealt as a result of the impending contract for Marcus Kruger, but it was still a bittersweet moment for Versteeg to leave the team that he’s won multiple titles with.
“It’s still strange coming back, but it’s exciting,” Versteeg told Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. “In 2010, I didn’t get the opportunity to come back after we won.”
Versteeg was traded to Toronto after that season, but he’s done well after his second trade away from Chicago. In 34 games for the Hurricanes, Versteeg has five goals and 14 assists, putting him on pace to match his point total from last season with the Hawks.
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, Versteeg’s play hasn’t translated into much success. The team currently finds itself in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division, and they’re one of only a handful of teams that has surrendered more than 100 goals this season. They’re only four points out of last place in the entire Eastern Conference, but they’ll still be looking to get things going in the right direction against a Blackhawks team that suffered an embarrassing loss the last time they were on the ice.
That loss came on Tuesday night, as they were shutout by the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks did have some excuse for their poor play, as Marian Hossa missed his second game in that loss, but they’ll have to perform much better at both ends of the rink if they’re going to bounce back with a victory.
To that end, the team will welcome Hossa back into the mix, reinstalling him on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Teuvo Teravainen. That move puts Andrew Shaw back onto the third line, where he will skate with Bryan Bickell and Dennis Rasmussen.
The Hawks will hope that Hossa’s return will kickstart a line that was showing signs of life before Hossa went down, and they’ll also look to get the second line rolling again. Patrick Kane has slowed down a bit after his point streak was snapped earlier this month, but if he and Artemi Panarin can provide some offense, the Hawks will be much better off.