Blackhawks week ahead: Chicago visits Dallas before Christmas Break; WJC begins

Chicago will see former players Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya in Texas before hosting Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom when Carolina visits United Center.

Hello, old friend. The Chicago Blackhawks head to Texas to visit Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya, who were traded this offseason, when they face the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Then the Hawks get four days off for Christmas break before hosting the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

The Hawks' prospects will not only be in action for the Rockford IceHogs, but for their respective countries as the 2016 World Junior Championships begins Saturday in Helinski, Finland.

Let's take a look at the upcoming week in Blackhawks' hockey (all times Central):

Monday - Off day

The Hawks travel to Texas and rest up while scouting their opponent, the Dallas Stars, in a Central Division matchup in Minnesota. It's a busy night for the league with eight games on the schedule, including three divisional games. The Blue Jackets visit Pittsburgh, while the Capitals head south to face off against Carolina in two Metropolitan tilts.

IceHogs: Rockford hosts Milwaukee (Preds) at 7 p.m.

Central Division: STL at PHI, MTL at NSH, DAL at MIN, TOR at COL, WPG at EDM

Tuesday - Blackhawks at Stars, 7:30 p.m. (CSN-C)

The Hawks visit Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya for the first time in the Lone Star State this season. The duo were shipped to Dallas to free up salary cap space this offseason. It is the first of five games between the two teams.

Last season's top two playoff seeds square off with the Ducks visiting the Rangers. The two NBCSN games are the Wild hosting the Canadiens and the Sharks in Los Angeles in a Pacific Division showdown.

IceHogs: Idle

Central Division: STL at BOS, MTL at MIN, WPG at CGY

Wednesday - Christmas Break begins
The Hawks and the rest of the league get at least three days off for their Christmas break.

IceHogs: Idle

Central Division: Idle

Thursday - Christmas Eve

No hockey for you. Go spend time with family while watching some college football bowl games.

IceHogs: Idle

Central Division: Idle

Friday - Christmas Day

'Twas the night before the World Junior Championships, and not a hockey player in the NHL was skating.

IceHogs: Idle

Central Division: Idle

Saturday - Hockey is back!
There is no Hawks hockey, but there are nine games on the schedule. There are three good games with the Habs visiting the Caps (it's on NHLN-US), the Stars visiting the Blues and the Red Wings in Music City against the Predators. The Wild are also hosting the Penguins, so that shouldn't be too bad.

The 2016 World Junior Championships begins with four games in group play. Team USA will play Canada at 4 p.m. at Helsinki Ice Hall. Hawks' 2014 first-round pick Nick Schmaltz is on Team USA.

IceHogs: Rockford hosts Milwaukee (Preds) at 7 p.m.

Central Division: DAL at STL, DET at NSH, PIT at MIN

WJC: CZE vs. RUS, SUI vs. SWE, FIN vs. BLR, USA vs. CAN

Sunday - Hurricanes at Blackhawks, 6 p.m. (WGN)

For the first time in three weeks, the Hawks end their week against a non-Pacific Division team with Carolina in town. It's also the return of Kris Versteeg, who was traded to Carolina along with Joakim Nordstrom this offseason. Both players play left wing on the top two lines. It's the first of two meetings between the two teams. Almost a month later, the Hawks will be in Carolina.

There are two games in the WJC: Belarus against Hawks' prospect Radovan Bondra and Slovakia, while Denmark faces off against Switzerland.

IceHogs: Rockford visits the Iowa Wild at 5 p.m.

Central Division: STL at DAL, PIT at WPG, ARI at COL