The Dallas Stars come into tonight’s game sitting second in the Western Conference, three points behind Detroit, and just suffered their first loss in 7 games on Monday. If we’re lucky enough not to get Kari Lehtonen in goal, we get Andrew Raycroft: 3 – 1 record, 1.65 GAA, .951 save percentage. Brad Richards, Loui Eriksson, James Neal, and Mike Ribiero are all comfortably north of 20 points in 26 games.
Dallas is burning as white hot as… as… hmm. What’s a good analogy?
These two teams traded players in the off-season through free agency. The Stars let long-time goaltender Marty Turco know late in the season that his contract would not be renewed, and he ended up being the solution to the Antti Niemi problem for the Blackhawks. It would be poetic if Turco were to start this game tonight, but Corey Crawford is the announced starter.
On the other side, this is the United Center return of lovable shit-disturber Adam Burish who tested the free agent market in the off-season and wound up with a nice raise to move south. His stats don’t reflect any surge of offensive production, but he is being used in a shut-down role along with Steve Ott, and is reported to be living up to expectations. Burish has made it clear that he’s not opposed to going a few rounds with whomever on the Blackhawks wants to try to get some teeth knocked out. We’ll see if he gets any takers.
But enough about Dallas, Blackhawks fans have had more important things dumped on their laps in the last three days. We’ll start with the goalie situation, which got no easier to sort out when Turco lost his tilt against Vancouver and Crawford stood tall against Calgary — his sixth straight win. Now the decision of who goes between the pipes becomes even more challenging, and that challenge will multiply when Crawford loses his next game. This is not the win-win situation fans seem to think it is: I hope I’m wrong, but it’s my thought that a bad set of decisions now will come back to haunt us at the worst possible time.
However, the team and its fans are reeling over the loss of a second one of the Blackhawks’ superstars. Patrick Kane was on the ice for a mere 23 seconds against Calgary before sustaining an injury to what is suspected (but not confirmed, as usual) to be the same ankle he injured two years ago. He is expected to miss 3 weeks minimum. This comes on top of the injury to Marian Hossa which is likely to keep him out of the lineup another week. If the stars keep dropping like this, we could see a starting lineup consisting of Ryan Potulny, Ben Smith, and Hugh Jessiman before anyone knew what hit us.
To fill the void, Jeremy Morin was recalled from Rockford again after a two-day sojourn. Additionally, newcomer Rob Klinkhammer joined Morin on the I-90 Express and took the ice with the Blackhawks this morning. The 6′ 3″, 210-lb. Klinkhammer has 3 G and 6 A in 20 games, alongside 31 penalty minutes. He wore #59 in pre-season, we’ll see what they give him for this evening’s game as he makes his NHL debut.
Game time is 7:30pm in Chicago. It seems those pricks at Comcast SportsNet have relegated the Blackhawks to the “CSN-Plus” channel this evening in favor of something called “basketball,” whatever the fuck that is. The net result of this is that those of you wishing to watch the game on television will have to spend several frustrating minutes sorting out which channel the hockey game is on by clicking here. Direct your complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org
Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers can find the game on channel 207.