Usually, when you talk about a team playing the role of “spoiler,” the discussion revolves around squads who are dangerous despite their status in the cellar. The Chicago Blackhawks seem primed to represented a different breed of spoiler: an elite team ruining it for bubble opponents.
After beating the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, the Blackhawks rained on the Dallas Stars’ feel-good parade with a 5-2 win on Monday. That ended an unexpected five-win run for the upstart Stars (and extended Chicago’s streak to six straight victories in the process).
That loss lowered the Stars’ odds of finding their way into the playoffs by a little more than 10 percent, according to Sports Club Stats. Dallas also saw out-of-left-field sensation Alex Chiasson’s night end early with an upper-body injury, so it was a tough night overall for the scrappy club.
While that win has the unintended effect of making life easier for their division rival in Detroit, the Blackhawks now need just one point to clinch the top seed in the West.
If that happens, then Chicago will only have the Presidents’ Trophy and the sheer joy of spoiling to keep them entertained.
Then again, winning can be enough motivation on its own, as Andrew Shaw told Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
“The feeling of winning is unbelievable,” Shaw said. “No one wants to lose.”
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Teuvo Teravainen has played both center and right wing over the course of his brief NHL career.
Now, he’s got a new position — left wing — and a pair of shiny new linemates to boot.
Teravainen will open the year playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, per the Sun-Times.
The move could be a boon for the young Finn. Several ex-Chicago wingers thrived playing alongside Toews and Hossa, most notably Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of production Teravainen, who just turned 21 last month, can manufacture on Chicago’s top line. His numbers from last year weren’t spectacular (nine points in 34 games), but he did a solid job of racking up points en route to the Stanley Cup, with 10 in 18 games.
It’ll also be interesting to see how long he sticks with Toews and Hossa.
Head coach Joel Quenneville has been known as a frequent user of the line blender, often switching up his combos at at moment’s notice.
That said, Quenneville is hoping to find some stability with this new-look group.
“[Teuvo will] play there to start the season,” he said. “Hopefully, all year.”
Pretty cool story out of Texas, where Mattias Janmark, the 22-year-old rookie that’s played a grand total of nine games in North America, has defied the odds to make the Stars’ opening-night roster.
“It’s a great story,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said, per the Morning News. “We really only planned to have him here for maybe two preseason games and then send him back. But he just kept being one of the best players out there, and he changed our minds.
“It’s a great example of what you can do if you just play hard.”
Nill acquired Janmark, 22, from Detroit at last year’s deadline as part of the Erik Cole trade. Nill was familiar with the Swedish forward from his time with the Wings — he was part of the front office team that drafted Janmark in ’13 — but didn’t think the deal would pay such immediate dividends.
As for Janmark, he didn’t even think he’d be in North America this year.
He has a contract with SHL club Frolunda, where he scored 36 points in 55 games last year. Given he’s barely played in the AHL — a few games with Grand Rapids, a few with Texas — Janmark figured he’d be back in Europe this season.
His strong play in the exhibition season changed all that. Janmark beat out two of Dallas’ touted prospects — former AHL rookie of the year Curtis McKenzie, and ’12 first-rounder Radek Faksa — for a roster spot, and showed good chemistry with third-line center Cody Eakin.
Janmark also performed well on a line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.