The Dallas Stars have had some practice playing in front of a sea of Chicago Blackhawk fans this season. Tonight will mark the fifth time they've done so, and just the second time at United Center.
Dallas out-shot the Hawks there 31-23 two weeks ago as Kari Lehtonen proved victorious and Tyler Seguin potted the game-winner. Most recently the Stars are coming off one of their more complete games of 2016 in a 3-0 win over the New York Islanders Saturday night.
It was two days off- Now on to a matchup that will probably have proven to decide much about playoff seeding in just three weeks.
Oddly enough each game in this season series has presented at one point or another a lopsided lead for one of these teams- More often for the Stars as they took 4-0, 4-2 and 5-2 decisions. Chicago flipped that coin over in a 5-1 drubbing of Dallas at the AAC on February 6th.
The Stars find themselves now with an opporunity to go 4-1 against the champions this season, and more importantly- Go six points up with eight games to play. Capitulate, and the Hawks would be just two back with a lead in the ROW tie-breaker.
High stakes. (Not to be confused with "High Steaks" - the name of the cheesesteak place downstairs at American Airlines Center).
Dallas will continue to be without the services of Jason Demers, Tyler Seguin and Mattias Janmark- But things could get a wrinkle with the potential return of Jordie Benn this evening as musicl chairs on defense continues.
Chicago, meanwhile, has won just six of their last 17 games. Somehow.
The internet got carried away with itself predicting the demise of the Chicago Blackhawks over the summer, capped by a loss on opening night and social media networks full of knowing-digital-nods signaling the end. Then they roared back to take over the conference.
Adam Gretz with CBS.com brings you this reminder about what exactly a slumping Blackhawks team means- Pretty much nothing.
Sometimes too much can be made out of these late season slumps, because, again, it is a reality for every team in the NHL at some point. You're not going to win every night, and sometimes enough things are going to work against you that you're going to lose a few games in a row. Keep in mind, when the Blackhawks went into the playoffs last season they won just five of their final 13 games of the regular season and ended the year on a four-game losing streak. Then they won 16 of their 23 playoff games and won their third Stanley Cup in six years. [CBSSports.com]
Well said- That's the monster that's capable of rearing back and striking with relative ease when it finds its groove.
One thing going for them? Their schedule. Counter-pointing the Stars' difficult road that goes through the Predators a couple times and the Kings, the Hawks have Calgary, Vancouver, Minnesota, Winnipeg, Boston, Arizona, St. Louis and Columbus.
They'll be there vying for the top spot when the season's final days arrive, or better. The Stars can punch their ticket tonight and make things that much harder for them, though, before their scheduled reprieve arrives.
Stop me if you've heard this one before but- The Stars' opponent tonight is looking to get healthy on the man-advantage (gulp). They've not scored on the power play in five straight games spanning their last 17 chances.
Corey Crawford has been out "day-to-day" with an upper body injury and has not been ruled ot out of this one by any stretch of the imagination, so watch out for that potential boost to a team looking for a bit of good luck.
From Stars PR:
The Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks meet for the fifth and final matchup during the 2015-16 regular season on Tuesday night at United Center. The Stars lead the season series (3-1-0) and look to record a win in three-straight win against their Central Division rivals. In the most recent meeting of the season series on March 11 at American Airlines Center, the Stars beat the Blackhawks, 5-2, with all five Stars goals coming from different players. In the most recent game played at United Center on Feb. 11, the Stars recorded a 4-2 victory over the Blackhawks with Stars forward Patrick Eaves recording a hat trick (3-0=3) in the first period of the game. Forward Tyler Seguin added two assists (0-2=2) with defenseman John Klingberg adding a goal and assist (1-1=2) in the game.
EAKIN' IT OUT
Stars forward Cody Eakin recorded a goal (1-0=1) on Saturday night against the New York Islanders and is now riding a four-game point streak (3-3=6) and has points in five of his last six outings (4-4=8). Eakin's four-game point streak ties the longest of his NHL career, which he established earlier this season from Nov. 17 - 24 (1-3=4). In 73 games this season, Eakin has recorded 34 points (15-19=34), sharing fifth in the NHL and tied for first on the Stars with three empty net goals. He ranks fourth on the club in both hits (86) and takeaways (38). The native of Winnipeg, Man. has skated in 17 games against the Chicago Blackhawks, recording seven points (4-3=7).