The Chicago Blackhawks are nearing the end of what has been a very successful Circus Trip, as they head south, to take on their Central Division foe, the Dallas Stars.[table “17” not found /]
With the exception of the special teams, the Stars come off as a sort of “poor man’s” Blackhawks. The Stars tend to excel in the same areas that the Blackhawks excel in, but to a lesser degree. However, the Stars Power Play is nearly the worst in the NHL, and their Penalty Kill is below average. The Blackhawks’ Power Play is in the top 10 in the NHL, while their Penalty Kill is nearly the worst in the NHL.
The Stars are more of an up and coming team, in the new Central Division. While their season has been a success, thus far, they happen to play in the most competitive division, in the NHL, and are still trying to find their way into the playoff hunt. Dallas just snapped an extended home winless streak, and a win against the Blackhawks could be the dramatic boost that they need to climb into the thick of the uber competitive Central Division playoff race. The Stars will need Tyler Seguin tonight, who is questionable to play at all. If he can’t play tonight, the Stars’ will likely have to rely on his partner in crime, Jamie Benn, to shoulder the offensive load.
Dallas deploys one of the best goaltender’s in the NHL that no one is talking about. Kari Lehtonen has been huge for the Stars, since his arrival. Now, as the Stars are getting closer to being a true player, in the Central race, Lehtonen will likely start getting the recognition that he deserves, as a very good goaltender, in the NHL.
The Blackhawks keep rolling through the difficult Circus Trip, which says a lot about a team that most would have agreed has already been spoken for. Patrick Kane will be looking to extend his points streak to 13 games, tonight in Dallas. Duncan Keith has been on fire, all season, as he is surely in the early season Norris Trophy conversation. Keith has 6 points, in his last 5 games.
After finally getting a game off, Corey Crawford will be back in net, for the Blackhawks, after getting the night off, against Calgary. Rest is undoubtedly the biggest concern for Crawford, this season. Now that he finally got some, it will be interesting to see how he responds to the much needed breather.
The Stars are climbing their way into the conversation of the Central Division, but they have a ways to go, before they are of the class of the Blackhawks. Beating them tonight, would do wonders for this Dallas team. The Blackhawks need to finish the already successful circus trip strong, in order to put some space between them, and the rest of the tightly contested division. It should be a good game!