The Dallas Stars kept their faint playoff hopes alive with Tuesday’s win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Now they face a major test of resolve: an intradivisional home-and-away with the Minnesota Wild that begins tonight in Xcel Energy Center at 7 p.m. Central.
The Stars won’t catch the Wild, who currently hold 94 points and a game in hand, as well as third place in the Central Division. However, two wins could get the Stars back within striking distance of the second wild-card spot, if the Anaheim Ducks falter on Friday night against the Los Angeles Kings.
Head coach Ken Hitchcock is working on the lineup he wants to take into Minneapolis. It will likely involve a return to 12 forwards and six defenders, writes Mark Stepneski:
“We’re going to make some changes. We’ll make some changes. That’s all,” [Hitchcock] said. “We’ve got to get better combinations. We’ll make some changes for tomorrow.”
He also said he wouldn’t go with the configuration of 11 forwards and 7 defensemen he used in Tuesday’s win over the Flyers due to having a few defensemen dinged up.
”We got the health report on a couple of guys today and they’ll go full-go tomorrow, so that will bring us back to 12 and 6,” he said.
Starting goalie Ben Bishop skated in full gear yesterday, but Hitch warns that Big Ben’s injury status is unchanged:
“No, middle of next week give me a call then,” he said. “The same stuff. He’s in a guarded situation stopping pucks, so it’s [Kari Lehtonen’s] net until the weekend here, and then we’ll see starting Monday where Ben is at.”
Mark has more at the Stars’ official site. [Stars Inside Edge]
Mark brought the official Stars-Wild preview, which you can enjoy alongside the DBD report.
And Stars digital correspondent Scott Burnside revisited what went right in the Stars’ Tuesday win.
The Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika examines the question many Stars fans have been asking: Can Hitch-style hockey still win the day in a faster, fleeter league?
Alexander Radulov has had an amazing season no matter what else happens.
Around the League(s)
#Death Takes A Holiday: The Colorado Avalanche are still four points ahead of the Stars – but they missed a chance to make progress toward a Western Conference wild-card spot with a 2-1 loss to the Flyers. [Broad Street Hockey]
Elsewhere, the Toronto Maple Leafs have set a new franchise wins record, and Steve Dangle must not have any idea how to feel right now.
Huge defender Zdeno Chara just turned 41, and he celebrated by signing a one-year, $5 million extension with the Boston Bruins.
I simply CANNOT WAIT to see Zdeno Chara's Instagram post, in which he reflects upon how meaningful this contract extension is to him. https://t.co/dhNja5llMd— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) March 28, 2018
Roberto Luongo has his own way of staying in game condition. Let the Florida Panthers’ 38-year-old Masterton Trophy nominee tell you about it.
41-year-old Zdeno Chara has adopted a plant-based diet to stay fit.— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) March 28, 2018
So, Roberto Luongo, what's your secret?
"Carb-based diet. Lots of carbs. Pasta, pizza, that kind of stuff. I’m Italian."
Ryan Kennedy takes a look at some of the top 2018 NHL draft prospects who are currently involved in postseason play.
Prospect Need to Know: Zadina, Kravtsov and Hughes among the 2018 draft hopefuls making noise right now https://t.co/UTylTNyHvq— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) March 28, 2018
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park (and Beautiful Boise)
Have you checked in lately with the Stars’ ECHL affiliate? The Idaho Steelheads have clinched their 2018 Kelly Cup playoff spot, and tickets are on sale now.
It's playoff time!!!— Idaho Steelheads (@Steelheads) March 26, 2018
The first two games of the 2018 @usbank @ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs will take place on April 13th & 14th, and tickets are on sale now!!!
GAME A: https://t.co/XfYD4JtRPn
GAME B: https://t.co/7zhwxMLe2O pic.twitter.com/IYqQjkQLgY