Stars, Domi Return to Chicago to face Blackhawks

The now third place Stars face must win game against the tanking Blackhawks. Chicago’s speed and willingness to stretch the ice could create problems.

For the Dallas Stars, the month of March began with back to back games against the Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. Both games were wins for the Stars, including a 5-2 victory at the United Center on March 2. Max Domi didn’t suit up for the game, and the next time he hit the ice, he was in Victory Green.

If you’re superstitious - and being a Stars fan pushes you that way - you’ll note that those two wins were followed by what might be the Stars best game of the year: a 7-3 beatdown of the Colorado Avalanche. You might also note that the game immediately preceding those games was a loss to the Vancouver Canucks at home.

Since starting the month with three wins, Dallas has been treading water, going 5-4-1. 11 points in 10 games gave the Minnesota Wild, and now the Avalanche, a chance to leapfrog the Stars in the standings. Both teams have taken advantage of that opportunity.

If Dallas wants to start the playoffs at home against a wild card team, the upcoming three games are vital. And that starts with taking care of business against the Blackhawks.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Max Domi (18) – Radek Faksa (12) - Tyler Seguin (91)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeni Dadonov (63)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Ty Dellandrea (10) - Luke Glendening (11)

Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Ryan Suter (20) – Joel Hanley (44)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)
Matt Murray (32)

By all accounts, Wedgewood is close. That said, Oettinger sat as the backup against the Canucks, and he should return to the starters net for Chicago.

In most instances, you’d think that the team would be tempted to just burn the film from the Vancouver game. The team was flat, and for the second time this season, the lack of energy and effort hung Matt Murray out to dry. But the Canucks games was indicative of several issues/problems that have crept into the Stars play. Might be worth taking a look.

By the numbers, Faksa as the third with Domi and Seguin has played out the best. It takes some offense off of the table, but does take away a good number of the defensive deficiencies. Until Mason Marchment makes his way back, the composition of the second line is going to be a matter of compromise.

Chicago Blackhawks Lineup

Lukas Reichel (27) - Andreas Athanasiou (89) - Mackenzie Entwistle (58)
Tyler Johnson (90) - Jason Dickinson (17) - Taylor Raddysh (11)
Boris Katchouk (14) - Jujhar Khaira (16) - Joey Anderson (15)
Mike Hardman (86) - Reese Johnson (52) - Anders Bjork (24)

Caleb Jones (82) - Seth Jones (4)
Wyatt Kaiser (44) - Connor Murphy (5)
Andreas Englund (28) - Nikita Zaitsev (22)

Petr Mrazek (34)
Alex Stalock (32)

The Blackhawks roll out a youthful group up front. Dickinson centers the “veteran” second line, where winger Tyler Johnson is the only forward playing regularly who is in his 30s. Watch Reichel on the top line - he was drafted 17th in the 2020 draft, and with playing time, is acclimating well to the NHL game.

Jonathan Toews has been shut down for the season.

On defense, Chicago has a veteran group, with size. Jarred Tinordi went down with a hip injury last time out, which likely brings Kaiser back into the lineup. If so, it will be his fourth NHL game after three seasons in college at Minnesota-Duluth.

Mrazek is back after being out for two weeks with a minor injury. He’s been the workhorse for Chicago, but Stalock has been excellent in a backup role.

Keys to the Game

Purposeful hockey. On paper, the Stars are the better team - by a bunch. That said, if Chicago can turn the game into a track meet or the NHL version of pond hockey, anything could happen.

Rested Oettinger? The theory was the Otter needed some time off. Otter has had some time off. You might say that the team has, as well.

Defensive Structure. Get back to basics. No odd man rushes, keep play to the outskirts of the rink, move the puck forward with control.