The Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars face off Thursday at the United Center for the fifth time this season. The Blackhawks have come away with victories in each of the first four matchups between these two clubs in an ultimately disappointing season for the Stars. In general, the Stars have failed to build upon any sort of success this season despite having such a successful year during the 2015-16 season.
The Blackhawks are sitting in first place in the Central Division and are looking to build a bigger gap between themselves and the Minnesota Wild who sit securely in the second spot within the division. While the Wild have struggled as of late, the Blackhawks have earned points in five of their last six games including a five-game win streak that was ended with an overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
Making a name as comeback specialists over the last few games, the Blackhawks will need to start the game against the division-rival Stars better than they did against the cellar-dwelling Colorado Avalanche and Canucks in their last two games.
Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks
United Center – 7:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, March 23
Broadcast channels –CSN-CH, FS-SW+
2016-17 Season Series:
Nov. 5 – Blackhawks 3 – Stars 2
Nov. 6 – Stars 3 – Blackhawks 4
Dec. 11 – Stars 1 – Blackhawks 3
Feb. 4 – Blackhawks 5 – Stars 3
Dallas Stars – 29-33-10 – 68 points
Away Record: 10-21-4
Key Injuries: Jason Spezza, Antoine Roussel, Mattias Janmark
Jamie Benn-Cody Eakin-Ales Hemsky
Remi Elie-Tyler Seguin-Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore-Radek Faksa-Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie-Adam Cracknell-Jiri Hudler
Esa Lindell-John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis-Greg Pateryn
Patrik Nemeth-Stephen Johns
Chicago Blackhawks – 47-20-6 – 100 Points
Home Record: 24-9-5
Hot Players: Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz, Patrick Kane
Key Injuries: Artem Anisimov
John Hayden-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Nick Schmaltz-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Dennis Rasmussen-Tanner Kero-Tomas Jurco
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk
1)The Stars are in a scoring rut as of late, scoring just one goal per game in four of their last five contests. With a tough test against the Blackhawks, the Stars will need to bring their best and find a way out of their rut to have a chance to come away with a victory Thursday night.
2)The Blackhawks have trailed in each of their last two games heading into the third period before staging improbable comebacks. Though they were able to comeback against the Avalanche and steal a victory, they were only able to come away from their game against the Canucks with one point Tuesday. They will look to get back on track with a quick start against the Stars in the final stretch heading into the playoffs.
3)Losing Artem Anisimov to injury until the first round of the playoffs has thrust rookie Nick Schmaltz into his natural position at center between the offensive duo of Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane. The new-look line has looked good for Chicago in the early goings and will look to build chemistry heading into the playoffs to best develop Schmaltz.
4)The Stars have had a disappointing season in 2016-17. While players usually echo the fact that there are no moral victories at this time of year, the Stars are playing for exactly that as they look to avoid a sweep against their division rivals in the Blackhawks.
Sitting in first place in the Central and looking to finish on top of the division, the Blackhawks will likely bring their A-game against the Stars on Tuesday. With this final stretch ahead of the playoffs being the ideal time to work out any kinks left on the Blackhawks team, the Stars will have their hands full as they look to avoid the series sweep. This game likely doesn’t hold much playoff value, but a good division game is always interesting and the best test for teams to showcase how they’re constructed. The Blackhawks have outscored the Stars 15-9 this season and will look to increase that total Thursday.