Joakim Nordstrom wasn’t a huge part of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run last year, playing 38 regular-season games and three in the playoffs.
But Nordstrom has a Stanley Cup ring. “It’s a good-looking ring, pretty massive,” he said, smiling.
Like Kris Versteeg, facing the Blackhawks on Tuesday is not “just another game” for Nordstrom. The two were traded to Carolina by Chicago on Sept. 11, leaving a championship team but quickly becoming integral parts of their new team.
Nordstrom was a third-round draft pick by the Blackhawks in 2010 and made his NHL debut in the 2013-14 season, when the forward played 16 regular-season games and saw action in seven playoff games. In 64 regular-season and playoff games for Chicago, the Swede had one goal and five assists.
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Nordstrom and Versteeg returned to Chicago on Dec. 27, when the Canes won 2-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks (33-15-4) responded to that loss by winning the next 12 games, but have since lost two of the past three as they play their final game before the NHL All-Star break.
“It’s always fun to play against your friends and this one will be special, as was the first one,” Nordstrom said.
Nordstrom has a two-game goal streak and Versteeg is coming off a two-goal game against Calgary in a 5-2 win.
“Nordy is a guy who gets in on the forecheck and he’s not afraid to work,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “He tracks pucks down. In the American League he had some offense to his game and we hope that continues to come.”
Peters continues to praise the work of the Jordan Staal line with Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil on the wings, adding, “They’re going to have to be good here tonight.”
— Versteeg and Nordstrom weren’t the only ones who have former teammates in town. Canes defenseman Brett Pesce and Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk were both teammates and college roomates at New Hampshire.
“There were four of us in a house and it was a lot of fun,” van Riemsdyk said. “We had some good times and he is definitely a great guy. Just a happy kid who loves hockey and loved being your teammate.”
The two rarely were paired together, both being right-handed shots. Pesce, 21, was a third-round draft pick by the Canes in 2013 while van Riemsdyk, 24, was undrafted.
“It’s a great school and great program and we had some good teams there,” van Riemsdyk said. “It’s a time you look back on fondly.”
Pesce has missed three of the past five games with a lower-body injury and could be held out Tuesday.
— The Canes had an optional skate Tuesday although most players were on the ice. Jordan Staal, Justin Faulk and Ron Hainsey were among those sitting out the skate.
Goalie Eddie Lack will make his fifth straight start and had a season-high 35 saves against the Blackhawks in December, missing out on a shutout when Brent Seabrook scored with three seconds left.
Lack compared it to his 1-0 shutout against Toronto last week and the Calgary game Sunday, saying, “I was tracking the puck real well in those, too.”
Asked about losing the shutout, Lack smiled and said, “Shot myself in the foot but to win is what matters.”