Every point counts for the Blackhawks as they face off the Stars
The Dallas Stars (33-26-11) are visiting the United Center and the Chicago Blackhawks (41-16-15) on Tuesday evening, edging ever closer to the end of the regular season. As of Monday, the Stars are 2 points out of a wild card position in the playoffs, and any win counts for them.
The Blackhawks are currently 2nd in the Central division, but wins and points are just as precious for them, with the Colorado Avalanche only 3 points behind them. The Blackhawks want to keep the home-ice advantage, which has proven to be incredibly beneficial for them in the past few years. Dallas are fighting for a place in the playoffs, and if they dislodge the Phoenix Coyotes, they’d face the league-leading St Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs.
For playoffs reasons alone, this match-up should be intense. The Dallas Stars have a young core led by captain Jamie Benn and linemate Tyler Seguin, who total up 31 goals and 140 points combined. The three players following them in points, Alex Goligoski, Valeri Nichushkin and Cody Eakin are still 50 points behind, showing the offensive force that Benn and Seguin have been for the Stars.
The Blackhawks, on the other hand, have a slightly more spread out production of points; Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane are leading with 69 points each, but captain Jonathan Toews follows right behind with 66 points, while D-man Duncan Keith and forward Marian Hossa, who missed 10 games this season, round up the top 5 with 55 and 54 points respectively.
However, Kane will miss this game with a lower-body injury sustained against the St Louis Blues. He has been placed on LTIR by the Blackhawks organization, but is scheduled to return for the playoffs. In his place, this game against the Stars could see the much-anticipated NHL debut of Finnish youngster Teuvo Teravainen, who has been recalled by the Blackhawks after his season with Finnish team Jokerit ended. Coach Joel Quenneville said there was a good chance Teravainen will be in the lineup on Tuesday.
The Stars’ main goaltender, Kari Lehtonen (2.49 GAA, .916 SV%), suffered an injury recently, but has been back in the net for the team and is probable against the Hawks. For Chicago, Corey Crawford (2.21 GAA, .919 SV%) is expected between the pipes.
The playoffs race this season is a lot tighter than it was last season, and the remaining 10 games for the Blackhawks are going to be interesting to watch, as positions are far from being set in stone at this point.
Game time is 8.00 p.m. ET and can be seen live on CSN-CH and FS-SW.