Blackhawks prepare for home opener

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Chicago’s Dominik Kubalik, left, and Berlin’s Florian Kettemer, right, challenge for the puck during a NHL Global Series ice hockey game between Eisbaeren Berlin and Chicago Blackhawks in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

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by Scott King

The Blackhawks are back.

After a 9-day stay in Europe that saw an exhibition game in Berlin (3-1 win over Eisbaren Berlin) and the season opener in Prague (4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers), the Hawks will face the struggling San Jose Sharks for the first game at the United Center for the 2019-2020 season.

“We got to go play smart, simple hockey,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “The way we would if we were on a long road trip right now and just take advantage of being comfortable at home.

“I think a lot of the guys on our team are settling into new places with families and it’s nice to play some games here in Chicago.”

The Sharks (0-4-0) have dropped their first four games to start the season after advancing to the Western Conference final and losing to the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues this past summer.

“They’re a veteran team,” Toews said of the visitors. “They played late in the season last year.”

“Yeah, they’re going to be a desperate team,” Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We need to be desperate, too. It’s a chance to play our first home game and we want to get started on the right foot with our home schedule and establishing that it’s a difficult place to play.

“But also if you have a good start it makes a big difference as the year goes on. We got to start collecting points. We’re going to be aware that they’re going to be a desperate team and we’re going to need to respond.”

The Blackhawks (0-1-0) begin a 7-game homestand on Thursday.

Injury update

There isn’t a timetable for 2019 #3 overall pick Kirby Dach’s (concussion) return and possible NHL debut.

Calvin de Haan (groin) missed Wednesday’s practice and is unlikely for the home opener.

Connor Murphy (groin) is likely to play on Thursday.

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