Mar 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) knocks the puck off the stick of Chicago Blackhawks center Michal Handzus (26) during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Blackhawks begin their regular season on October 9 against the Dallas Stars in Texas. This will be the second season that the two teams battle it out in the Central Division standings and see each other at least 5 times. In the 5 matchups last season, the Stars went 1-3-1 against the Blackhawks and were outscored 20-11. Dallas managed to snag the last Wild Card seed in the Western Conference by 2 points to make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in 6 years. They gave a decent effort against the top team in the West but eventually lost to the Anaheim Ducks in 6 games in the first round.
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The Stars have made a few changes in the offseason and most of them have to do with team offense. They traded for center Jason Spezza who has been with the Ottawa Senators since 2002. He will most likely play on the second line while Tyler Seguin centers the top line. The Stars also signed right wing Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers to round out their string of notable forwards. Rich Peverly’s return to the Stars is still unsure since his collapse in a game in April due to an irregular heartbeat. He has since had surgery and hopes to return in a few months, but the timetable is far from sure.
In goal, Kari Lehtonen will continue to be their number one goaltender if he can stay healthy. The Stars lost goaltender Tim Thomas as a free agent over the summer but have replaced hime with Anders Lindback. Lindback had some shaky experiences with the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Stars like the potential that they see in him.
Defensively, the Stars haven’t made many changes. Their strategy is to be better with what they have. They are confident that their current defensemen can turn it up a notch or two and provide a solid defense behind their revamped forward lines.
The Stars seem to be a different team now that they are in the Central Division which is arguably one of the best Divisions in the League. It looks like they will continue to rise to the challenge next season in a division where the competition keeps getting better and better.
What is your prediction for the Blackhawks-Stars regular season series for the 2014-2015 season?