FACEOFF: 7:30pm Central
TV/RADIO: NHLN, CSN/WGN 720
Texas Is The Reason: Defending Big D
Last time we saw the Stars, just earlier this month, they were starting to right the ship after a bit of stumble out of the gate. They had three straight victories (albeit all in OT/SO) and were looking to climb their way out of the basement of the Central division.
Well that hasn’t worked so much. They’re still in the basement but don’t let that fool you. They’ve got 26 points, which would actually tie them for second if they had the fortune of playing in the Metropolitan Division instead of the Central. It would also put them in the playoffs in the East as whole, instead of third to last as they are in the West. So it might be shit luck but they’re still going to need to get better if they want to play past 82 games this year.
OK – enough of making fun of just how bad the East is. The Stars, despite their struggles, are not really a team you can sleep on. Just ask Anaheim. Leading going into the third, the Ducks forgot how to hockey to kick off the final frame. As a result, the Stars not only tied the game but also took the lead and added an insurance goal. All within a minute of actual game time. Two goals in 17 seconds is pretty good. Two in 9 seconds is better. But 3 goals in 53 seconds might be best (not counting the situation or significance of course). I was watching the game while shooting pool with friends and thought I was hallucinating when I came back to the TV after taking my turn at the table.
The last time these two teams met – The Stars took the early lead, gained it back after Hoss tied the game and then were just completely overwhelmed from about midway through the third and on. Sharp went off for 3 assists and the Hawks walked out with what seemed like an easy win (at least on paper, the actual game wasn’t quite a blowout).
It will be interesting to see how Ruff chooses to combat the Hawks top line. In that last meeting, the second line, centered by Eakin, were used to combat Toews but Seguin and Benn were actually quite effective in stopping Getzlaf and Perry on Tuesday (An assist for each but walking out with a -3). Further complicating matters, Seguin missed the last two practices with a “muscle” issue, which is a new type of injury since it is not either lower or upper body. Ruff said he’s probable for tonight but will likely not be at 100% even if he does suit up.
As for the Hawks, after Raanta’s first career start, we’re likely to go back to Crawford in the net tonight. Other than that, there really shouldn’t be too many changes for the Hawks. And why should their be? Hossa is back and has points in three consecutive games, Patrick Kane is scoring whenever he damn well pleases and the Hawks have won 4 straight by making Canadian teams into their little play things. That won’t last forever but the Hawks are not unfamiliar with going on long streaks (both positive and negative ones). The Circus trip is coming to a close and the men of four feathers are already guaranteed to come out with a winning record. Two more games (both winnable but not necessarily easy) are all that stands from a fantastic trip. No need to take your foot off the gas just yet.
Let’s Go Hawks