The answer to the question of which Dallas Stars goalie will be in net tonight for the game against the Chicago Blackhawks will have to wait until this evening, as the Stars are not taking a morning skate on the second night of a back-to-back.
That makes total sense on one level, because even though the Stars do have two days off following tonight's game (one of which will likely be a CBA-mandated day off for the players), there's no reason to run the players ragged with the jam-packed schedule down the stretch. Heck, this is a team that has five games in the final eight days of the regular season, so any extra rest will likely be useful.
But knowing whether Kari Lehtonen will try to build on his very solid effort against the Winnipeg Jets or Tim Thomas will get a chance to bounce back won't be known until the team takes the ice for warm up tonight.
There's only one other roster decision looking for Dallas, as the decision on defense will likely come down to Aaron Rome or Kevin Connauton once again. Rome stayed in the lineup last game and played 10:14. He was on the ice for the Jets lone goal, but that came on a 5-on-3 (empty net version) power play, a situation in which it's hard to blame any individual in particular.
The Stars have only been carrying 12 forwards for the last several weeks, so there's no real surprise who will be in or out of the lineup up there tonight.
For the Blackhawks, it looks like Corey Crawford will be in net. Bryan Bickell participated in the morning skate but will not play tonight, and notably absent were Michal Rosival and Johnny Oduya (as well as the obviously injured Patrick Kane). Of those two, Rosival is out and Oduya is in. New addition Teuvo Teravainen was also at the morning skate and should be in the lineup tonight.
The Chicago coaching staff was messing around with the lines, but here's what it looked like for a bit at least.
#Blackhawks lines (at least first rush we saw): 23-19-81, 20-86-28, 10-26-65, 52-16-12.— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) March 25, 2014
In news that affects the Stars playoff race a little more indirectly, the Phoenix Coyotes got what appears to be good news on goalie Mike Smith, who suffered some sort of right-leg injury in Monday's overtime loss to the New York Rangers.
The team is characterizing the injury as the always clear "lower-body injury" and other outlets described it as a "mild sprain," though they're not specifying of what ligament, and he is listed as day-to-day. The Coyotes have recalled a goalie for the time being as they play the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, and backup Thomas Greiss will start that game.
As a general hockey karma rule, I never root for injuries even if it helps out a team I follow, so it's good to see this injury isn't serious.