RECORDS: Stars 30-25-5 Hawks 26-27-9
PUCK DROP: 2pm
FROM A DC-9 AT NIGHT: Defending Big D
It’s such a weird year. The Hawks lost the opening half of their showcase weekend, and yet that’s probably the best game they’ve played since…man, it’s hard to say. There have been periods here and there but overall, you could argue it was New Year’s Day. And they lost that one, too. But they don’t base the standings on aesthetics and who played better. All that matters is what you got out of it. The Hawks got nothing but a handful of themselves, which means they’d better get something out of this one if they’re serious about chasing until the end of the year.
From the Hawks’ perspective, they’ll get a couple of returnees. Brent Seabrook looks likely to return from his “abdominal” problem (and this is where we snigger about any trainer being able to find his abdominals), and Carl Dahlstrom should be over his case of the plague. Marcus Kruger also should be available after missing the third period on Friday. The first two mean that Henri Jokiharju will return to Rockford, and that’s a whole other discussion we’ll have soon at a podcast near you. So the defense will look like you’ve become accustomed to, and any change in the forwards is Perlini coming in for either Kunitz or Hayden or possibly Sikura, but that would be unfair to the kid.
Right, the Stars. Like any team stuck in this goo around the wildcards, this is not how they pictured their beautiful house. They’ve lost five of seven, and all of those without Ben Bishop who has been hurt. But he returned yesterday against the Canes, which means the Hawks will get Anton Khudobin today. Khudobin has been an excellent back-up this season, but having to take the main role broke his reserves, and he’s surrendered 14 goals in his last four appearances. Perhaps getting the break with Bishop back is all he needs to throw 35+ saves at the Hawks today, but let’s hope not.
The Stars are kind of like the Wild, in that they surrender more of the opportunities than they get but as you rate the chances better and better so do their numbers. So they create better chances than their opponents, and are happy to let them let fly from the hinterlands. Their problem of late as been they’ve been the anti-Motley Crue, they can’t get their heart kickstarted. They have a league-low 26 goals in the 1st period, and of late their stout defense has leaked first, which has them playing catch-up every game. As they were just playing some 20 hours ago or so, the Hawks would be wise to try and jump on them from the word go and see just how much they have in the tank to catch up again.
As always with the Stars, despite the bleating from their CEO, they’ll go as far offensively as Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn can carry them. They’re on different lines at the moment, but no one else on this team is scoring. The Stars simply haven’t gotten enough from anyone else you look at other than John Klingberg, who was hurt for a chunk. Further complicating matters for Gang Green is that Alex Radulov was sick yesterday and missed out, and his status for today is up in the air. Without him, there is a whole lot of not much here.
It’s not that the Hawks would be charred if they don’t get a regulation win here, but the coals would be certainly heating up. But if they do get the win, the Ducks and Kings are lined up next, and that’s four points they’re begging you to take. You’re also getting a team on the second of a back-to-back that had to travel, while the Hawks were simply waiting around. Quite simply, this is a game you have to have. So go get it.
Game #63 Preview Suite