7:30 PM American Airlines Center, Dallas, Tx
TV: Comcast Sports Net Chicago+
Radio: 720 AM WGN
The Blackhawks make their first trip to Dallas since opening the season there in October. Tonight’s matchup is a possible playoff preview. If the season ended today the Stars and Hawks would meet in the first round. The Stars are red hot going 8-1-1 in their last ten games. They had won six in a row until a 5-2 loss in Winnipeg Wednesday night. This hot streak has propelled them to the top Pacific Division and the 3rd seed in the Western Conference.
The gauntlet of hot goalies the Blackhawks have been facing won’t change tonight. Kari Lehtonen, who started the season opener and is 8-0-1 in his last 9 games, will get the start. Lehtonen has been a big key to the Stars’ succes this season going 29-15-4 with a 2.21 GAA and a .925 save %. Dallas is one of the few teams that converts on their power plays less than the Blackhawks. They come in with just a 14.7 % conversion rate. Stop me if you’ve this one before, Sheldon Souray is expected to miss tonight’s game with an injury. Radek Dvorak will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The Stars don’t score a ton of goals but they do have a collection of solid players. Mike Ribeiro always plays big against the Hawks. He has 21 (8 G, 13 A) in 28 career games and 3 assists so far this year against the Hawks. The over/under on how many times a yell “F&*$ you, Steve Ott” tonight is 4.5, so place your bets.
There is no new update on Jonathan Toews and still no set date for a return. The Blackhawks have been doing a good job keeping their heads above water without their captain. Niklas Hjalmarrson will make the trip but not sure if he will play tonight. Corey Crawford will get the start in net tonight for the Hawks. Crow has started all 3 games against Dallas this season. Ray Emery has the flu and will not make the trip. Carter Hutton has been called up from Rockford to backup Crawford tonight. The Stars always provide a tough matchup for the Blackhawks. If the Blackhawks play the same game they played on Tuesday, against St. Louis, they should be just fine. Get the puck deep, win the races to puck, and use your speed to draw penalties and create scoring chances. Seems simple enough, right? And would it kill Dave Bolland to show up on the score sheet? He does have 2 goals against the Stars this year, so this could be the night.