Gameday Preview: Chicago Blackhawks @ Dallas Stars (7:30pm CST)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It's the Blackhawks. Again!

For the 4th time in 13 games the Dallas Stars will face off against the central division leading Chicago Blackhawks- The third meeting at the American Airlines Center.

The Stars have weathered the storm to this point, managing a .500 mark against Chicago with a 1-1-1 record, though have lost both meetings at home.

Last week in Chicago, despite winning the game 4-3 on an Antoine Roussel penalty shot, the Stars saw the Blackhawks dominate possession of the puck even more than usual. Chicago piled up 70 (!) total shot attempts toward Kari Lehtonen's net versus just 30 for Dallas, and out-shot them officially 50-18.

"The Chicago game [last week] was a low-energy game for our team," Lindy Ruff recalled, "and I expect our energy level to be right up there again."

Dallas has a six-game point streak despite losing Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley long term and missing games from Tyler Seguin, and now Vernon Fiddler along the way.

They try to make it seven games tonight just after 7:30 on Fox Sports Southwest.

The Stars:

Dustin Jeffrey and the newly recalled Colton Sceviour will find out, if they haven't already, who will draw into the lineup in Vernon Fiddler's absence.

That could cause an interesting reconfiguration of the forward groupings, perhaps reaching the top-six if Monday's practice was any indication as Cody Eakin centered, not Whitney and Chiasson, but Ryan Garbutt and Antoine Roussel.

"I look at them as a real hard line to play against, lots of speed," Ruff said of the combination. "It's an option if I want to go that route in the Chicago game."

Speed continues to be the mantra.

"If you are careless with the puck or don't do the right things, their counter-punch will kill you," Ruff said once again of Chicago. "At the same time, when we are on top of our game, we can give them all they can handle with our speed."

Thanks to two starts, both wins, by Dan Ellis in recent weeks Kari Lehtonen has played just four games in the last 16 days. After an afternoon off agains the Flyers on Saturday he should be fresh for this one.

Defensive pairings at practice were these:


The Blackhawks:

The Stars' improbable victory in Chicago last week started the Hawks on a three-game losing streak (Minnesota, Anaheim) before they got back on track with a 6-2 win against the Florida Panthers Sunday night.

Dominating though they were against Dallas, they've seen an unusual down-tick in their puck possession as of late, even in victory. They managed just 19 shots against Minnesota's conservative game plan, got out-shot 26-25 against the Ducks including overtime, and saw the Panthers out-shoot them 35-32.

Other than that it's business as usual here tonight. Ruff will probably try to put Seguin and Benn up against the Toews line, and the difference could once again be who watches the Kane line. Vern Fiddler's absence complicates the situation so it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

Their lineup:



Finish rookie netminder Antti Raanta is expected to start in the Chicago goal. Playing in front of a team that always has the puck has afforded him a 3-0-1 record with a 2.16 GAA and .922 save percentage.

Corey Crawford left in the first period of Sunday's win over the Panthers with a lower-body injury. Raanta should get their starts until Crawford or Nikolai Khabibulin can come back.

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