RECORDS: Stars 11-12-6 Hawks 17-8-4
PUCK DROP: 6pm Central
HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS?: Defending Big D
ADJUST TEAM xGF%: Stars – 49.5 (17th) Hawks – 47.7 (22nd)
ADJUSTED TEAM Corsi %: Stars – 49.0 (19th) Hawks – 50.0 (15th)
POWER PLAY: Stars – 17.4 (15th) Hawks – 16.1 (19th)
PENALTY KILL: Stars – 76.7 (27th) Hawks – 72.1 (Dead ass last)
For the second game in a row, the Hawks will play an already beat-up team on the back end of a back-to-back. This time instead of blue it will be green. as the Stars coming in licking their wounds after blowing a third period lead to Brayden Schenn yesterday afternoon in the Illa-delph. Not that the Hawks are anywhere near full-strength themselves.
Let’s start with the Hawks. They will once again be without a top center in Toews, a top four defenseman in Seabrook, and their #1 goalie in Corey Crawford. Toews’s two-way game and Seabrook’s passing were greatly missed against the Rangers, as the Hawks just couldn’t get much going for any stretch. Darling was excellent, and got the Hawks their point.
But there is never a situation you can’t make worse, and while Quenneville can’t see past the shutout the defense and Darling put together on Friday night that doesn’t mean both Rozsival and THE HILL should be in ahead of Michal Kempny. They are, even though the Hawks got badly outshot and out-possessed by a possession-allergic and shorthanded Rangers team. As the Stars don’t come with much less speed than New York, this is a recipe for something going haywire. The rest of the lineup should stay the same.
They’ll get no sympathy from Team Green, as they’ve seen their sickbay far too filled all season. But the calvary is starting to arrive. Both Johnny Oduya and Jiri Hudler could return tonight, and Cody Eakin has been playing for a while now. The Stars are still without the now dizzyingly handsome Patrick Sharp, while Janmark and Hemskey remain long-term absentees.
As for what has been on the ice, the Stars have not been able to recapture the elixir that made them must-see TV last season. Certainly the departures of Goligoski and Demers, along with Oduya being hurt (and looking decidedly old when he’s been in) has handcuffed the blue line from being as punch-it as they were. Klingberg in particular has struggled with Lindell instead of the known-known that is Goligoski. Johns has been so up and down he found himself in the AHL for a few days. The Stars have been waiting for Oleksiak to make the leap for so long that even Jimmy’s special shoes probably won’t get him there now. The Stars just aren’t getting the drive from the back they did last season.
The Stars aren’t getting quite the fireworks from their top line as well, though they’ve been good. That’s why you’ll see Lindy Ruff loading up with Spezza in between Seguin and Benn. They have one of the best, and dirtiest, third lines around with Radek “Oh I Didn’t Know The Boards Were That Close To You” Faksa and Antoine “I’m Gonna Have A Sandwich” Roussel. Shore and Ritchie have shown flashes but only flashes.
And of course, their goaltending still blows. No matter what they come up with elsewhere, this is going to be their undoing, which everyone has been telling them for two seasons now.
With the injuries both are carrying the Hawks don’t have to quite fear getting into a track meet with Dallas as they might when both teams are at full healthy. Then again, without Toews and Seabrook they might not have the weapons. With #32 and Passenger 57 on the ice, you certainly don’t want to have things go too fast for them or bad things go happen. The Hawks power play could get a boost tonight as the Stars kill is really struggling, especially on the road, where they haven’t broken 70%. As many pucks on Niemi is always the order of the day.
Hawks could use this one, as a road trip to the Rangers, the improving Islanders, and then the Blues await before the next home date with the Sha-arks. Without Toews and/or Seabrook, both are 50-50 for the trip, it’s got the potential for an ugly streak.