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NHL on NBCSN: Can battered, slumping Stars rise above Blackhawks?

Dec 3, 2013, 8:39 AM EDT

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp (10) scores goal against Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the shootout of an NHL hockey game Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Dallas. The Blackhawks won 2-1. (AP Photo/LM Otero) AP

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Dallas Stars at the United Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the team’s website that Tyler Seguin (concussion-like symptoms) might only end up missing a couple days. Still, in the likely event that he’s not available tonight, he will be sorely missed.

Dallas is 1-2-2 in its last five games and the Chicago Blackhawks are just about the last team a battered and slumping squad wants to face.

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The Blackhawks have shown no signs of fatigue after capturing the Stanley Cup. In fact they lead the league with a 20-4-4 record and are the hottest team right now with six straight victories on the road.

Everything seems to be clicking for the Blackhawks right now, from 24-year-old rookie goaltender Antti Raanta to Duncan Keith, who led all defensemen in points last month with 16 in 15 games. On top of that, they had five forwards that found the back of the net at least five times in November. The Stars only had one guy that could say the same, and he’s the one in their sickbay.

That puts more pressure on Jamie Benn to carry a Stars offense that has been middle-of-the-road this season. The problem is that Benn has been cold during Dallas’ recent five-game slump, with just an assist and minus-four rating.

Even still, Dallas can’t be overlooked. Chicago has beaten the Stars twice this season, but in their last contest on Friday, Dallas held on for 11 shootout rounds before finally conceding defeat.

The key is Kari Lehtonen, who is arguably one of the most underrated goaltenders in the NHL. When he’s at his best, the Stars have a fighting chance regardless of their opponent or even the availability of their top sniper.

The Stars will also have plenty of motivation, given that they’re already six points out of a playoff spot. They know if they continue to slip the standings, the odds of them staging a comeback in the highly competitive Western Conference will start to become very daunting.

Sometimes the difference between a playoff squad and a lottery team is how the players respond when one of their best is sidelined. So perhaps tonight’s game will be telling.

  1. muckleflugga - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    after a seemingly endless run of lucky bounces, and teams willing to forgive porous defence and offence subject to long periods of outright indifference to notions of coherent attack, hawks are due for a dose of reality…long overdue

    go wild, wild…

    • endusersolutions2013 - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      The Hawks have admittedly had a “middle of the pack” defense this year – and I’m seeing signs that is improving. Part of the problem has been an uncharacteristic # of give aways, and in their last game, they had NONE. ZERO.

      They now have a decent backup.

      Wild have improved, and I was actually glad to see them win last night.

      But they won’t come out on top in points against the Hawks in their next two meetings.

      One of us pays attention to relevant, objective statistics. In my rankings, Hawks and Blues are effectively tied for 2nd best in the NHL, Wild are 10th. Sagarin has the Hawks at #4 and the Wild at 12.

    • prd797 - Dec 3, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      “hawks are due for a dose of reality, long overdue”

      If there was anyone due for a “dose of reality,” it’s you, highcountrybear.

      Same old crap, just a different day.

  2. se7enbladez - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    Yep, their depth and play has nothing to do with their winning ways. All those lucky bounces accumulated to almost 5 goals a game recently.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      If you look at points and +/- depth, Hawks are #3 in the NHL, Wild are 10th.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      Somehow he also overlooked the highest goals/game average in the NHL.

  3. hammerhead5573 - Dec 3, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Aha Big Country Bear I mean Muckleflugga is back.Even if your username has changed your comments remain the same. Let’s go with your theory that the Hawks get lucky bounces and bla bla bla. Those “lucky bounces” have them the top scoring team in the Nhl and the best record too. I realize it’s early and anything can and will change but as a Hawks fan, I will take that any day of the week. By the way you do realize it is not only skill that wins games right???? If it were skill alone there would be even more crapy teams than there is.

  4. darksidecowboy - Dec 3, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Another game without Seguin doesn’t spell win for the Stars, hopefully I’m wrong and some of the depth follows Ryan Garbutt’s lead and scores some goals against the toughest team in the NHL, GO STARS!!!

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