Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Chicago Blackhawks (7:00pm CST)
It's national television tonight on NBCSN as the Stars make their first trip of two to the windy city in January.
The Dallas Stars have scored 13 total goals in their last two games, but there's little time to enjoy it. The Chicago Blackhawks were waiting snug in their beds last night while Lindy Ruff's bunch finished off the Minnesota Wild by the lopsided total of 7-1.
"That's a winning recipe," Ruff said of his team's balance in the win. "Every line is playing so well. One through four, they're all playing the same way. That's the one thing, if you're a coach, if all the lines are doing the right things and they're all producing, it's a winning recipe. Tonight was just another indication of that. Every line went out there, generated opportunities, defended really well and got rewarded for it."
The Stars got those Wild on the second night of a back-to-back Friday, and so now too the Chicago Blackhawks benefit from Dallas' late travel ahead of a 7:00pm CST start this evening.
Right. Back to back. 0-4-0 so far on those nights this season, and against what you'd probably have to call the best team in hockey tonight, the prospects of improvement are not as good as they might otherwise be.
Then again, these are the Dallas Stars- Now one of the NHL's hottest teams, anyone would have to admit. Statistically the hottest in the West over their last ten games at 8-2-0.
But how do you solve a problem like the Hawks?
The Stars have been unable to do so, losing to them at the American Airlines Center on opening night in a 2-1 shootout, and then getting spanked 6-2 on November 16th in Chicago, getting out-shot 47-24(!) in the process.
This will be Chicago's return to private life, so to speak, after ending their Winter Classic journey and all the documentation that went along with it. That game, of course, ended in favor of the home team as the Washington Capitals took it 3-2 in regulation before 42,832 on New Years day.
Prior to that they'd won three of four, taking down the Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs wrapped around a loss to the Winnipeg Jets. They've won 9 of their last 10 at United Center, where hockey teams go to get their whoopings.
They've scored a power play goal in six of their last eight at home, they've put up north of 34 shots in each of their last four there, and they're getting equal contributions from Raanta (who rattled off five straight W's at home for them) and Corey Crawford at United.
They are, in short, the Blackhawks, and they're pretty gosh darned good at everything.
They will, however, be without Kris Versteeg for this one and many more after the forward was struck by a shot in the Winter Classic. He's expected to miss close to a month with the injury.
"It's going to be a big loss for our team," Corey Crawford told ESPN Chicago. "Just another guy who can create things offensively for us. It's definitely another five chances a game that is created by him and the other guys."
Possible lineup, or something like it:
So remember to check in on this one at the conclusion of some other sporting event of some local interest I'm given to understand is taking place this afternoon.
From Stars PR:
"IT'S 106 MILES TO CHICAGO...IT'S DARK AND WE'RE WEARING SUNGLASSES"
The Stars head to Chicago in the second game of a back-to-back on Sunday to take on the Blackhawks. In the third of five contests between the two clubs this season, the Stars are looking for their first win over Chicago and come into Sunday's tilt 0-1-1 against the Blackhawks so far in 2014-15. The Stars hold an overall record of 99-124-37 against the Blackhawks and are just one win away from the team's 100th against Chicago. Chicago would become the fourth team in franchise history the Stars have earned at least 100 wins against, joining Los Angeles (109), St. Louis (104) and Detroit (103).