Friday, March 16th, 2012, 7:30 PM CST
American Airlines Center
Opponent Blog: Second City Hockey
After the Winnipeg Jets broke their six game win-streak and eleven game point streak over all, the Dallas Stars are eager to get back to their winning ways, and can pass the Chicago Blackhawks in points with a regulation win tonight at American Airlines Center. It's the first of four at home for the Stars.
Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said his guys just didn't have it in Winnipeg on the second night of a back to back.
"I thought our effort wasn't up to par, wasn't where it needed to be," said Gulutzan. "We knew they were going to come out hard and coming out of that first, down 1-0, I thought we were fine. We just didn't have a lot of resolve in the second."
Keeping games close and giving themselves a chance to win in the third period was a hallmark of the team's successful run up the standings. Further 5-0 deficits in the second period are something they'd definitely like to ward off moving forward.
Chicago enters at 4-1-1 in the month of March, coming off a big come from behind win over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Dallas owns a 2-1 edge in the season series, having most recently defeated them 3-1 at United Center on February 23rd. Richard Bachman got the win for Dallas on the road and Chicago out-shot them 27-25.
The Stars took three of four from Chicago last season for the first time in five years. They go for two years in a row tonight.
The pack of wolves circling the Stars grew stronger Thursday night with San Jose, Colorado and Calgary all moving to within two or three points.
More on each team after the jump...
The Stars need to get off to a solid start, unlike in Winnipeg. This they will tell you. What that means is up for some interpretation. Dallas has been content to keep things settled down and feel their way into the game, and a good start could simply mean a tie game through 20 minutes.
Case in point: In eight of their last nine games they have failed to score a first period goal. At some point a good start might include getting an early lead. They've proven they can win without it, but it would take a lot off the collective mind of the AAC tonight.
Expect forward lines to pan out the same way they have since Brenden Morrow returned three games ago, barring a surprise at morning skate.
How do you arrange defensive pairings to match up against the Kane/Hossa and Sharp lines if Philip Larsen is out?
Or something like that? It's going to be very interesting to see what Glen Gulutzan chooses, and the minute distribution of the results. We'll update Larsen's status after morning skate.
Sheldon Souray and Radek Dvorak have already been declared out for this one. One or both could possibly return on Tuesday against Phoenix after a needed three day break.
From Stars PR: "Friday's game features two of the top-five highest goal scoring 2007 NHL Draft picks. Patrick Kane leads the list with 121 goals in 388 games played while Jamie Benn is fifth with 65 goals in 211 games."
"Friday's game will be the 250th all-time meeting between these two teams. The only team the Stars have seen more often than the Chicago Blackhawks are the St. Louis Blues, who have faced-off against the Stars 259 times."
The news in Chicago these days is all about injuries. Captain Jonathan Toews will miss his 12th consecutive game tonight with a concussion and had a setback (or so it seems) this week when he skated with the team Wednesday and then wasn't seen Thursday.
The news on his progress was short Thursday. "No news to report on him," Quenneville said after practice. "He's not going on the trip."
Also ailing are Steve Montador (also a concussion) and Niklas Hjalmarsson, who has some kind of upper body injury and left Tuesday's game versus St. Louis early. He is questionable and could play tonight.
The quantity of injury talk coming out of Chicago these days might lead one to believe that the team is struggling, and needs a shot in the arm to continue on. That's far from the case.
Chicago is 4-1-1 in March and one point ahead of the Stars with 84. They've won five of seven overall, including really nice results over the Rangers, Blues, Senators and Red Wings. When they lost nine in a row in January and February, it looked like they could slip back to the pack and have their playoffs in doubt. They've gone 9-4-1 since then and look to be a very likely candidate for the 6th seed.
Though they continue to play well and present a huge challenge for Dallas tonight, questions in goal remain. Corey Crawford was pulled from consecutive games to end February after allowing four goals in ten shots to the Kings and then three more to the Maple Leafs in just ten shots.
The Hawks road Ray Emery for five games in a row after that, but when he sprung a leak against St. Louis on Tuesday, Crawford took over and stopped all 18 shots he faced, plus three shooters in the skills competition. He will reportedly start tonight, so it will be interesting to see where his game is after a layoff of sorts.
The projected lineup:
Hjalmarsson could be in that defensive unit. We'll update tomorrow.