Mar 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) carries the puck past Dallas Stars left wing Ray Whitney (13) during the first period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
In a rematch of the opening night matchup between two Central Division teams that were/are expected to make a lot of noise, in the highly competitive division. things have not gone smoothly for either the Chicago Blackhawks or the Dallas Stars. While the Blackhawks have been up and down, the Stars have just been mostly down, so far, which is disappointing to them and their fans, as they were expected to be contenders in the division. However, it’s still early in the season, and anything can happen.
In the only previous matchup of the 5-game season series, between the Hawks and Stars, the Hawks pulled off a 3-2 shootout victory, in Dallas.
Here’s a statistical breakdown of the Hawks and Stars.
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The advantage has to go to the Hawks in this one. Offensively, the Hawks have been inconsistent, and overall let-down, this season, while the Stars have been absolutely porous defensively. Look for the Hawks to light the lame and light it often, tonight. Dallas has been middle-of-the-road offensively while the Hawks have been lights-out defensively. Special Teams favors the Hawks as well. The Power Play, for the Hawks has been mediocre, as the Stars Penalty Kill has been almost equally mediocre. Dallas’ Power Play has been below average, while the Hawks’ Penalty Killing has been the best in the league. Possession-wise, the Hawks have been in the elite category, and have been one of the better teams in the faceoff circle, while the Stars have been below average in possession and near average in the faceoff circle. Clearly, the advantage goes to the Hawks, and the fact that tonight’s game is being played in Chicago is just gravy.
The Stars, with all their promise, are currently mired in last place, in the Central Division with a 6-7-4 record, which is good for 16 points, which isn’t horrible. Interestingly, the Stars are 5-3-0 on the road while they are a brutal 1-4-4 at home, after yesterday’s home loss to the Minnesota Wild. Most of the Stars’ offensive comes from it’s highly dangerous top-line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza. Seguin leads the team and is 3rd in the NHL, in points, with 22. Outside of that line, Antoine Roussel has 4 points in his last 5 games, and often likes to scrap it up with opponents. Defenseman, Brendan Dillon, has done a great job pacing the game and eating up ice-time as he is one of the Stars’ top possession players, with a Relative Corsi For Percentage of +5.47.
In net will likely be Kari Lehtonen, on back-to-backs, for the Stars. Lehtonen has played in all but 3 games, this season, and has a less-than-stellar .912 Save Percentage.
The Hawks seem to take 2 steps forward and one step backwards, which is not conducive to great success, in the NHL. So far, the Hawks are 9-7-1 with 19 points, which seats them at 4th place, in the Central Division. Former-Star, current Hawk, Brad Richards, will play in his 1,000th career game tonight. Richards is quietly having a solid season for the Hawks. Jonathan Toews is currently leading the Hawks in points, with 14 in 17 games played. Like the Hawks as a whole, Patrick Kane has been up and down this season. He has recorded a point, in every other game, for the last 5 games. Dan Carcillo will make his return to the lineup, tonight. With him and Roussel, on the ice, beware of bad penalties.
In net for the Hawks will likely be Corey Crawford. Crawford has been spectacular, this season, with a .930 Save Percentage.
Two Central Division teams that were/are expected to be big factors in the way the division plays out that have underwhelmed, so far this season. A win would be a bit of a statement, for either team, and a loss would be stinging punch to the gut for either team.