Dallas Stars Close Out Homestand Against Chicago Blackhawks

The great homestand ends tonight, and Dallas is in great need of points. They will have to try and snag two against a very dominant Chicago Blackhawks team.

It’s red alert yet again in Big D. The Dallas Stars once again find themselves at the bottom of the playoff race with only a few points separating them from a spot at the playoff table. They could seriously use two points tonight against the powerful Chicago Blackhawks.

The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest (FSSW) as well as on the NHL Network, and you can also hear it on 1310AM/96.7FM The Ticket. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CT from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX.

Records and Scores

The Dallas Stars enter tonight’s game at .500 with a record of 21-21-10 and 52 points. They sit dead last in terms of the teams still realistically in the playoff race in the West, but a win could potentially push them into tenth and have them just two points out of a wild card spot. Their most recent game was a disappointing 4-3 loss to Winnipeg and they are 2-1-2 in their last five games.

The Chicago Blackhawks come in as the third best team in the West with a record of 31-17-5 with 67 points. Their most recent game was a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, which snapped a three-game losing skid. They are 2-3-0 in their last five games and in need of a boost.

Storylines

A jam-packed night for the playoff race

The Dallas Stars come into tonight’s game sitting in twelfth place in the Western Conference. That sounds absolutely horrible, doesn’t it? But if they can beat Chicago, they could potentially move up to tenth and be two points out of the final wild card spot in the West.

That’s because tonight, every team (besides Calgary) that is narrowly ahead of Dallas in the standings will play in a game of their own. The Nashville Predators (third in Central) play the Detroit Red Wings, the Los Angeles Kings (second wild card spot) play the Philadelphia Flyers, the St. Louis Blues (ninth place) play the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Winnipeg Jets (tenth) play the Colorado Avalanche, and the Vancouver Canucks (eleventh) play the Minnesota Wild.

So, in other words, the ideal situation for the Dallas Stars would be for them to win and all of the teams in listed in bold above to lose. While that is highly unlikely, why not hope on a prayer? If Dallas can at least get the win and have three of the five above lose, it would definitely be a successful night and a step in the right direction yet again.

Chicago struggling and in need of a turnaround

The Blackhawks have been known as one of the league’s elite teams for a while now. They always seem to be near the top of the standings, usually flirting with the top spot in the division and conference.

But right now, they are having some trouble putting two wins together. On Thursday night, the Hawks narrowly beat the Arizona Coyotes, the second worst team in the West, by a score of 4-3. That was their first win since Sunday, Jan. 22.

The win also snapped a three game losing streak for Chicago. They had lost to Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, and San Jose, and were outscored 13-6 during the span. That’s a 4.33 GAA.

In other words, the Hawks are trying to string some wins together to rebuild confidence. They will look for their second straight tonight against a desperate Stars team.

Give it to Benn

Jamie Benn is riding his longest point streak of the season so far at five games. After tallying a goal and two assists against the Jets on Thursday, Benn now has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last five. He now has 45 points (15G, 30A) in 48 games, meaning he is only four points behind Tyler Seguin who leads the team.

In a critical divisional rivalry game, it might be beneficial for the Stars to send the puck Benn’s way tonight.

Must win?

The Dallas Stars might as well treat every game as a “must win” from here on out. Considering their current standing, the Stars will need two things to go right. Not only will they need to win their games and pick up points, but they will also need some other teams to slip up.

That being said, they need to worry about the only part that they can control: winning their games.

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“A good stretch of games can put you in or out of a playoff spot,” Patrick Sharp said. “It’s encouraging to know that we are within striking distance of the playoffs based on what has happened this year with our team. We’ve been playing some good hockey as of late and hopefully we can build off of it and get some wins.”

As Lindy Ruff said at morning skate this morning, it’s “almost a must.”

Stars will have to dig in tonight

As we’ve said many times already this season, it’s do-or-die time for the Dallas Stars tonight. Not only will they be matched up against a very good and always competitive Chicago Blackhawks team, but they will have to find a way to beat them.

There are some encouraging signs though. For example, the Stars have really been clicking on this homestand. While the loss to Winnipeg did take some wind out of their sails, they are still rolling with an impressive 2-1-2 record against some very strong teams.

“I think we’ve had lots of energy,” said Radek Faksa about the team’s recent performance. “The game before the All-Star break was huge for us and we feel that we have a chance and that we are getting better. Everyone wants to make the playoffs badly, so we’re pushing harder and harder and playing better and better.”

They’re going to have to dig in tonight, because this one isn’t going to come easy. Can they bury and forget about the last game and come out with a new energy tonight? Tune in at 7:00 to find out.

Injury report

The Dallas Stars will be minus the services of RW Ales Hemsky (hip) and C Mattias Janmark (knee) who are both still on long-term IR. D Johnny Oduya (lower body), D Jamie Oleksiak (hand), and C Jason Spezza (upper body) will be out as well.

The Chicago Blackhawks will be missing D Michal Rozsival (lower body) tonight.

Projected lines

Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn – Cody EakinPatrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel – Tyler Seguin – Brett Ritchie

Devin Shore – Radek Faksa – Patrick Sharp

Curtis McKenzieAdam CracknellLauri Korpikoski

Esa LindellJohn Klingberg

Dan HamhuisJordie Benn

Patrik NemethStephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

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Chicago Blackhawks

Nick SchmaltzJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Artemi PanarinArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane

Andrew DesjardinsDennis RasmussenRichard Panik

Ryan HartmanTanner Kero – Vince Hinostroza

Duncan KeithNiklas Hjalmarsson

Brian CampbellBrent Seabrook

Gustav ForslingTrevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Prediction

The Dallas Stars need the points. The Chicago Blackhawks need the points. For me, the Stars need to score first if they have any shot at winning this game. If they can do that, I’ll take Dallas winning 3-2.

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