The Dallas Stars are 1-1 so far in what will be five games against the Chicago Blackhawks this season. Tonight, they're looking to take back the upper hand with a win in United Center, and possibly to avenge a stinging loss in American Airlines Center last Saturday.
Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya will return to Chicago for their first regular-season game since they joined the Stars. Sharp is very much aware of what Dallas needs to do, but also of the tools they have for the job:
"It's tough to circle one game and say that's a test or a measuring stick," said forward Patrick Sharp. "You look at the schedule in February, and every divisional game we play, all across the league teams are getting better and playing their best hockey down the stretch, and we want to make sure we do the same.
"We're in a good position in the league standings for a reason. We have a good team; we've got a good coaching staff. We've got some big games down the stretch, and ultimately that is how our season is going to be defined."
With three games in hand, the team has a big opportunity in what is effectively a four-point game:
The Stars come into Thursday's game in the same position they were over the weekend - three points behind Chicago in the race for the top spot in both the Central Division and Western Conference and with a chance to gain some ground.
"We've got three games in hand, so It's a big game," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We've got to clean up some of the mistakes. We are going to get our opportunities. We have to get to their goaltender. He's been good."
Read the rest at the Stars' official site. [Stars Inside Edge]
Bonus video: Sharp talks about playing his 800th career NHL game in the city where he played most of them.
And Oduya speaks on how it feels for his new team to be fighting his old team for the Western Conference lead.
Sharpie is everywhere today: Mike Heika talked with him about the lessons he learned from his dad, Ian, who's part of the Stars fathers' trip this year. [SportsDayDFW]
Are you going to the official Stars-Blackhawks watch party tonight? Get there early to meet Brenden Morrow and Marty Turco.
Prizes will be won! And awarded! Here's a sneak preview.
The #MDK took Ash Wednesday off, probably so they could all go to church and think about what they've done. It's back to the same old destruction tonight:
- Colorado Avalanche at Ottawa Senators, 6:30 p.m. Central time
- Minnesota Wild vs. Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. Central time
- Winnipeg Jets vs. Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. Central time
Speaking of people who write sins not tragedies, Calgary Flames forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma have apologized to the team for reporting late to practice (and the healthy scratches that followed). [NHL]
Former Star Trevor Daley left the ice and the Penguins bench after crashing into the net in the first period. Head coach Mike Sullivan had little to report as of last night:
Coach Sullivan says he hasn't had the opportunity to talk to the medical staff yet, so as of now there is no update on Trevor Daley.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2016
Victor Hedman comes from the same Swedish town of about 30,000 people that produced Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Anders Hedberg. The Tampa Bay Lightning star has written a terrific Player's Tribune article about how a junior hockey team founded by the local paper mill has been cranking out champions for years.
But on the upside, Daniel Sedin became the franchise's all-time leading goal scorer during last night's victory over the Bruins. [Sports Illustrated]
How much does a brain injury affect your capability to form intent? Concussion science will be key to Dennis Wideman's suspension appeal, and how that appeal plays out has far-reaching implications for the entire league, says Eric Macramalla. [Forbes]
And the tragic death of former NHL'er Todd Ewen may yet bring hope to players who have suffered multiple concussions, as research on his donated brain has produced surprising results.
After blowing a 6-3 lead, the Texas Stars rallied to beat the Manitoba Moose 7-6 in a shootout.
And the NWHL is weathering its first scandal: Chief operating officer and Connecticut Whale acting GM George Speirs has lost both of his positions after allegations that he has worked to "discredit" the league, and possibly take commissioner Dani Rylan's job. [Puck Daddy]
Finally: What's behind Sidney Crosby's recent uptick in form? Maybe it's the Pittsburgh Penguins' new goal song. Andrew W.K. talks about "Party Hard" and team effort with The Sporting News.