Blackhawks back home, take on the Stars
For their first game back at the UC, the Chicago Blackhawks (20-4-4) are hosting their Central division rivals, the Dallas Stars (12-9-4). The Blackhawks had a very strong road trip, going 6-1-0 during their time away from Chicago, while the Stars have dropped 4 of their last 5 games. The Hawks are hoping to be able to settle back home with a strong win, but the Stars have proven to be solid while on the road.
However, Dallas are without their star player, Tyler Seguin, who’s out with concussion-like symptoms. His production was already lackluster in recent games, impacting linemate Jamie Benn as well; they only produced 2 points between them in the last 5 games. Their lack of production forced their other lines to bring more offense, but despite 3 of their 5 last games being one-goal decisions, they have not managed to pull wins as often as they did at the beginning of the season.
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen is probable to start for the Stars, as he’s been a key player for the Texas team, with a stellar .926 SV%, while Corey Crawford will be in net for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks had him share the net with Antti Raanta while Nikolai Khabibulin is out with an injury.
The Blackhawks are benefiting from a strong offense at the moment; Brent Seabrook is a +/- 15, while Duncan Keith is having a Norris trophy season, leading all d-men in assists with 23, while the rest of the defencemen are all over the ice, shooting on one end and blocking shots on the other. But the forwards are going just as strong; with Marian Hossa back in the lineup, some line changes were made by coach Joel Quenneville, but production is still happening up and down the four lines, as their latest 5-2 win against the Phoenix Coyotes can attest.
While the Stars are going to miss Seguin, the Blackhawks are having to do without Bryan Bickell, who was a pillar to their 2013 Stanley Cup success. With call-ups like Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith, though, Chicago has managed to find a very strong balance in the team despite injuries of their star players.
This will be the second match-up between these two division rivals, the first one of which the Stars lost 2-5. They could be looking to even the record, or simply to get back on the solid stretch they had at the beginning of the season, despite their star player being sidelined.
Game time is 8.00 p.m. ET and can be seen live on TSN2,NBCSN,CSN-CH.