Tonight the Chicago Blackhawks will (un)welcome in the Dallas Stars for a star-studded tilt on the United Center ice. Granted, most of the "stars" will be on the side of Dallas (😆 pun intended). Still, without the likes of Connor Bedard the Hawks have played well in their 3 matchups without their franchise center (you can click on the sentence for a detailed article on their play)
Dallas has only been playing average of late (11 points in 10 games) and has slipped to the 4th position in the Western Conference. They will look to take advantage of a depleted roster when Chicago looks to continue their new style of play.
Here is an unbelievable stat when looking at the matchup: The Stars have outstanding forward depth on offense. Dallas has 10 players that average over 0.5 points per game at the midpoint of the season. While Robertson, Duchene, Pavelski, Hintz, and Seguin grab alot of headlines it has been the play of Mason Marchment and Wyatt Johnston that has me thinking Dallas could be in line for a long playoff run.
So while the Hawks may focus in on stopping a vaunted top 6 for the Stars, I'll be watching the 3rd line this evening as I see a clear advantage for the visitors. Chicago will get some help tonight though as (per Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports) Seth Jones looks to re-enter the lineup:
Kevin Korchinski, while learning the Power Play 1 point position at an NHL level, has been good at times, but my view now is that Seth Jones will help improve the "keeps" when on the power play as well as playing the sling-shot entry to a higher efficiency. Petr Mrazek in net gives the Hawks a chance as well. Mrazek despite the numbers has played outstanding all season and many wins can be attributed directly to him this campaign.
On the flip side when talking about net minders, in lieu of an outstanding defensive core / 2 way forward core the Dallas Stars have so far only received average play from Jake Oettinger and Scott Wedgewood. Oettinger came back from a month off last night and gave up 4 goals to Nashville on home ice (.889) so it should be Scott Wedgewood this evening.
That's bad news for Chicago as Wedgewood got the win for Dallas in a New Year's Eve game where the Blackhawks didn't look their best. The veteran goalie only gave up 1 goal and was barely tested (.958 save percentage) with a disinterested Hawks team. Will tonight be a repeat of that game just 2 weeks ago or will the new scheme from the coaching staff prove to limit the Stars offensive rushes? Tune in tonight @ 8:00 EST to find out!