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Blackhawks’ Opening Day Q&A With Blackout Dallas

By Skylar Peters
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Good Morning Blackhawks fans! We’ve gone from months, to weeks, then days, and now, only hours remain until the Blackhawks kick off their season tonight at the American Airlines Center against the Dallas Stars.

‘Hawks fans are used to the high expectations, and many around the league expect Jonathan Toews to be lifting the Stanley Cup come June of next year, but for the Stars, improving on a post-season showing in 2013-14 is just the start of what is sure to be some good years in Texas. With it will come five great games between the two teams this season, in a rivalry that’s making up for lost time, as the two became Central Division opponents last season.

To get acquainted with our opposition, we talked to Josh Clark, editor at our sister Stars site blackoutdallas.com. Over there, you can find another Q&A about tonight’s game; just click Blackout Dallas Q&A to be redirected (will open in a new window).

1. Do you have faith in Kari Lehtonen to guide the Stars to the playoffs? What about Anders Lindback in the back-up position?

Definitely. Lehtonen has seen his fair share of struggles in the past with injuries, but he seems to have hopped the gap on that and fixed everything that can be fixed. His postseason numbers for his career are not pretty at all, but now that he has had a bit of a successive taste of the playoffs and knows he is a member of a good team who is ready to go far, he’ll learn to step it up a notch.
Lindback is a flat-out mystery. Some nights he’s good, some nights he can’t stop the simplest of shots. But when you boil it down, he will serve as a major improvement to the past half-decade woes of the Dallas Stars backup goalies (i.e. Andrew Raycroft, Richard Bachman, Dan Ellis, and the always illustrious Tim Thomas).

2. Who do you predict to be the Stars’ most improved player, from last season to this upcoming year?

It has to be Erik Cole, it just has to be. After a 16-goal, 29-point year while serving for the most part on the second line, he has something to prove, especially in a contract year. At age 35, he is basically at the point of “one more Cup and I’m done” and if the Stars wait two-three years to get one, he’ll need a new contract to remain a member.

Colton Sceviour would not be a bad choice either. He had a very successful partial year with the Stars last year, and could be looking to get even higher on the stat sheet this year.

3. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn combined for 163 points last season. Over or under that total in 2014-15?

Back, back, back, HOME RUN! Over, definitely. But not by much. Last year was a surprising and stellar year for both, and they cannot do much better than 163, especially with a quality second line this year. Look for 170, 175 tops.

4. What do you expect out of Sergei Gonchar, in what could be his final kick at the cat?

Gonchar is currently on IR, but that’s almost assumed when you’re old enough to eat your dinners at 4:30 and not be called a lunatic. He’ll have a more successful year than 22 points as he did last year, especially when he knows that this will be his last shot at a Cup for eternity. With the lineup given, he knows it can be done and will give everything he’s got to push the buck.

5. Some experts like the Stars’ chances at a divisional playoff spot this season. Do you think the Stars will make it to the Top 3?

The Central Division still remains the dominant powerhouse of the NHL, and the Stars have a lot of crosses to bear before the postseason shows up. I like the Stars chances of a Top 3 spot, though, and it looks as though Chicago could be the only challenge for the 1 spot. St. Louis and Dallas will battle for the 2 spot, definitely.

6. A One-Two center punch is so important in the NHL today, so who has the better combination; Toews-Richards for the Blackhawks, or Seguin-Spezza for the Stars?

This is just an unfair question. You’ve got four of the best centers in the NHL today, and you may require a hockey scholar in order to rank them properly. I’ll give major props to Toews-Richards because props are due, but I think the Seguin-Spezza centering will produce just a tad better. Seguin’s dynamic duo with Benn and Spezza’s excellent meshing with Hemsky will make them very hard for even the elite teams to stop.

7. What do you think the final tally will be in the Stars-Hawks season series this year? Who wins it?

2-3 Chicago takes it. Stars take one at home (tonight) and one on the road. Blackhawks snag two in Chicago and one in March at the AAC. Stars will go 2-2-1 and Hawks will take a 3-1-1 record.

We wish the Stars the best of luck tonight! Get ready.. It’s time for Blackhawks’ hockey!

Thanks for reading! For more Blackhawks conversation, like us on Facebook: Blackhawk Up, and follow us on Twitter: @Blackhawk_Up.

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