Cool For The Summer: Blackhawks vs Stars

Mar 28, 2023 - 3:03 PM
Dallas Stars v <a href=Chicago Blackhawks" src="" />
Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars at the United Center on Tuesday night for their second of a three-game homestead before they head back out on the road.

The Stars couldn’t be more different from the Blackhawks: Dallas is in an intense battle for the top seed in the Central Division while Chicago is racing to the bottom for a chance at the best NHL Draft lottery odds. Unfortunately for the Stars, they have been inconsistent lately, going just 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, while both the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche have gotten points in all but one game during the same span. Dallas is still only three points back from that No. 1 spot in the division with a game in hand, but they’ll need to go on a bit of a streak down the stretch if they want to finish on top — and the Blackhawks will try to play spoiler.

The Stars most recently lost ground in the divisional race due to a 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Usually pretty good at generating offense, the Stars could barely muster more than 20 shots on goal, and only defensemen Ryan Suter was able to capitalize. Credit to Vancouver for blocking 21 shots, but Dallas is typically much better at getting the puck on net. Instead, the Stars have only gotten more than 30 shots once in their last five games, a contributor to the resulting goal differential of minus-5 from that span.

Luckily for Dallas, their big guns are still firing on all cylinders. Forwards Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, and Jamie Benn, as well as defenseman Miro Heiskanen all have six points in their last five games. Roope Hintz isn’t far behind with a goal and four assists in the same span. Nineteen-year old Wyatt Johnson, who is having a solid rookie campaign with a 0.50 point-per-game rate in 73 games so far this season, added three goals.

Unfortunately for Dallas, after those six, the contributions have been a little lackluster, as no one else had more than one point (like former Blackhawks forward Max Domi with just one assist in that span). Tyler Seguin might get going again, though, as he’s just recently returned from injury: this will be his third game since recovering from a leg laceration that kept him out of the lineup for nearly seven games. The Stars are also without top-nine forward Mason Marchment (12 G, 19 A), who is out with a knee injury.

The Stars’ averaged three goals per those five games, which was ranked 21st in the NHL, way down from their season mark of 3.40 goals per game — ninth in the league. It shouldn’t take much to get that offense back on track, so the Blackhawks will need to be better than they have lately — having allowed an average of five goals per game in their last five games — if they don’t want to be the team that get the Stars out of their mini funk.

Although the offense hasn’t been at its best, the Stars biggest issue has been in net, where Jake Oettinger just hasn’t been himself lately. He has a .892 save-percentage over his last 10 games, well down from .923 prior to that. He’s still a top-five performing goaltender this season, and facing an offensively inept Blackhawks team might be just the cure to get him back on track right before the playoffs. Or the Stars might opt for their rookie netminder to be the starter: Matt Murray — no, not that Matt Murray — has only three NHL games under his belt, but his one win so far did come against the Blackhawks on March 2, when he stopped 19 of 21 shots.

Tale of the Tape (statistics from this season)

Blackhawks — Statistic — Stars

43.27% (31st) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 51.15% (13th)

41.68% (31st) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 51.61% (12th)

2.42 (32nd) — Goals per game — 3.40 (9th)

3.56 (25th) — Goals against per game — 2.75 (9th)

52.9% (6th) — Faceoffs — 54.7% (1st)

15.8% (31st) — Power play — 23.2% (8th)

76.1% (20th) — Penalty kill — 83.5% (3rd)

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago

Radio: WGN 720

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