It’s in the Stars: Dallas to Finish Season Sweep of Sinking Blackhawks

stars blackhawks

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 3:44 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 3:44 PM UTC

It’s two teams on three-game streaks but in opposite directions Thursday night as the Dallas Stars visit the Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks. Which streak ends?

Dallas Stars at Chicago BlackhawksFree NHL Pick: StarsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3217277, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,93,169,1275,118], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

It’s the second-latest puck drop on the NHL schedule Thursday night and only one at 8:30 ET as Dallas visits the Windy City in the final meeting of the season between Central Division foes – although it’s remotely possible they could face off in the playoffs.

The Stars are going for the four-game season sweep. They won Nov. 30 in Chicago, 4-3 in overtime on Mattias Janmark’s second goal of the game, coming 51 seconds into OT past Corey Crawford. Janmark was named the game’s No. 1 star. It was Dallas’ first win against the Blackhawks since March 22, 2016. On Dec. 2 in Dallas, the Stars won 3-2 in a shootout. Ben Bishop was the No. 1 star with 33 saves and also stoned Hawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the shootout. Anton Forsberg was in net for Chicago.

Finally, on Dec. 21 in Dallas, the Stars rolled to a 4-0 victory, improving Bishop to 3-0 this year vs. Chicago with a 1.62 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. Tyler Seguin scored two goals in the second period, in which Dallas found the net three times to blow it open. That was coach Ken Hitchcock’s 800th career NHL victory.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

He scored the game-winning goal on the power play. He killed penalties. He won 8 of 11 faceoffs. A healthy Martin Hanzal makes the Stars a different hockey team. #GoStars @Kia

— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) February 6, 2018

Stars Playing Some Defense

Dallas currently has the fourth-best goal differential in the Western Conference at plus-27 but is no lock to make the playoffs; the Stars, with their 66 points, do currently hold the West’s final wild-card spot. They enter this one on a three-game winning streak, their longest since late November-early December, and have allowed just one goal in each of the three.

It was Kari Lehtonen in the first two games, wins at Arizona and vs. Minnesota, but Bishop on Monday in a 2-1 home victory vs. the New York Rangers. Martin Hanzal came off injured reserve, and in his first game since Jan. 20 scored the game-winning power-play goal at 4:05 of the third. Seguin had the other Dallas goal, his team-leading 26th. It was his third game with one. In 23 career games vs. Chicago, Seguin has nine goals and nine assists. Bishop, meanwhile, improved to 22-14-3 with a 2.44 GAA and .919 SV. I’m presuming it will be him over Lehtonen on Thursday considering Bishop’s success vs. the Hawks this year.

Chicago continues to bring up the rear in the Central Division despite a plus-7 goal differential. It’s going to take a minor miracle for this team to get a wild-card spot. The Hawks dropped their third straight game Tuesday, 3-2 vs. Calgary – after also losing 4-3 in overtime at Calgary on Saturday. The Flames had lost a season-high six games in a row before those two. The Blackhawks are 1-5-1 in their past seven home games and lost their first game in regulation to the Flames since Feb. 3, 2012.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

“Had a lot of good chances, should be able to find ways to win games, even if we give up two or three.” #CHIvsCGY

— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 7, 2018

Crawford, the team’s No. 1 goaltender, still hasn’t played since late-December due to a concussion and he’s not going to be back this week. Forsberg and Jeff Glass have been mediocre at best in his place. No one on the team is scoring much other than Patrick Kane (21 goals, 32 assists) and rookie Alex DeBrincat (19 goals, 15 assists). Brandon Saad, brought back in trade this offseason from Columbus, has been a bust with 24 points and was recently demoted to the fourth line.

Dallas has won four of its past five on the road, while Chicago can’t buy a home victory right now and hasn’t solved the Stars yet in 2017-18. I see no reason why that would change here. Take Dallas on your Thursday NHL pick.

comment here