Are There Stars Out Tonight? Dallas Visits Chicago


There’s never a dull moment when the Dallas Stars come to town, and their last visit was no exception. The last time they were in town, Chicago managed to blow a 3-goal lead, ride a 1-goal advantage through the entire third period before potting an empty-netter with one tick left on the clock.

In admist all that was the scene shown above, where Jake Dowell had Dallas meat-hole Steve Ott bent over and squealing, but let him stand up before clocking him another few times for good measure.

But the most bizarre event of all was the scoring opportunity by Stars forward Trevor Daley in the final minute of the game. While attempting to defend his own zone, Blackhawks’ defenseman Brent Seabrook fell over backwards. Here’s where things get strange. When Seabrook’s hand hit the ice, his stick — for lack of a better term — was released from his grip. The loose stick interfered with Daley and he was unable to get a decent shot off. There was no call on the play.

Dallas Coach Marc Crawford went non-linear, screaming a barrage of obscenities at the officials that would make Russell Crowe cringe. He continued on his way into the locker room and later in the post-game press conference. His contention was that a penalty shot should have been awarded, but Coach Crawford needs to review his rule book.

Rule 53 (for those of you who care) deals with “Throwing Equipment.” And whether it be a stick, a helmet, a jock strap, or some little kid’s chewing gum, the entire text is very specific to use the word “throw.” Clearly there must be intent, and no matter what angle you view the replay from, you cannot argue intent on the part of Seabrook to release his stick in the direction of Daley. Crawford got it wrong, the refs (by intent or omission) got it right, and the call on the ice was correct.

But enough with the lecture. I don’t have my white board anyhow, so it really loses its effect.

Dallas is currently sitting on top of the Pacific Division (and what’s up with THAT? Pacific Division? Dallas is closer to Miami Beach than the Pacific Ocean) mainly due to consistent play. They were dominant in October, less so in November, and were a .500 team in December. Lately they are 5-3-2 in their last 10, losing to Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose among others.

And as we proved last month, they can be beaten.

This would be the meeting of the two ex-teammates again, as Adam Burish returns to Chicago for a second trip to visit his former squad. The reunion was incomplete last game, as former Stars goaltender Marty Turco sat on the bench for the game while Corey Crawford locked in the ‘W’ with a 28-save performance. The same will be true tonight, as Crawford is the announced starter.

Burish managed to scoot his booty out of town without getting his face dented by any of the Blackhawks’ pugilists. Something tells me that *he* is going to make sure that doesn’t happen again this time. The over/under on when he goads somebody into dropping the gloves stands at 45 seconds from the time he hits the ice surface.

Looking up and down the roster you can’t fault Dallas much. They have their four powerhouse scoring forwards, but they are getting regular contributions from the role players. Defense is stable, though by no means excellent. The goaltenders hold their own, both are above the .900 mark in save percentage. The knock on Dallas of late has been consistency, or lack thereof. One night they dominate, the next they phone it in.

The Blackhawks have had some glaring inconsistency problems themselves of late. The last two games were not perfect, but did represent a modest improvement over some in the recent past. The big benefit now is, the entire lineup (knockonwoodofcourseitcouldchangeanyminute) is healthy. Jonathan Toews returned early from his shoulder injury to notch the winning goal against Los Angeles on Monday.

And we won’t talk about the fact that the goal was “scored” by Jonathan Quick attempting to clear the puck, having it bounce off of one of his own defensemen’s skates and ricochet into the net. We’ll take ’em however we can get ’em.

There are many areas that we could talk about as having room for improvement. But two of them stand out as being right on the money. First, for the last two games both Nick Boynton and John Scott have been in their civvies, and there has been MUCH rejoicing. If the team can coalesce as a unit *without* these two steaming sacks of manure wearing the Indian Head uniform, I will be very pleased. Those two are projected to be scratched again tonight, along with Jake Dowell — which has many people scratching their heads.

UPDATE: Boynton, Dowell and Jack Skille are your scratches, with Scott being in the lineup.

The other one is the power play. The Blackhawks have been slaughtering their opponents with the extra man, sitting first in the league in that category with a conversion rate of over 25%. The ‘Hawks went 2-for-4 on the power play against Los Angeles, and with all of our guns now back in the lineup it is reasonable to assume that will continue.

Puck drops at 7:30pm tonight at the United Center. Comcast has relegated the Blackhawks to the “Plus” channel tonight, click here to find out where that might be with your local cable provider. Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers can find the game on channel 207.

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