Time to get back on that dang pony and win more hockey games. The Dallas Stars play on the road tonight at the champion Chicago Blackhawks, or at least what is left of them after they gutted that roster this offseason to keep under the cap. This game looked like it could be full of nice story lines and nice reunions with old teams and teammates. But now it won’t be so and I am a little pissed about that.
Long time Stars netminder Marty Turco was basically told last trade deadline that he would not be back in Dallas with his contract coming up and him getting up in age and down in ability to stop a freaking puck. Dallas and GM Joe traded for a former first round pick and believed goalie of the future, and Kari Lehtonen got a new home and a chance to start over while still being a younger guy. So Turco left, and after a rocky market for goalies this last summer and guys not getting near as much as they hoped for, he landed with the Blackhawks after they left Stanley Cup winning goalie Niemi go off to the Sharks because he cost too much for their cap situation.
So Marty ends up in the windy city. Tonight is the first matchup of the two teams, and Turco will actually not be in the crease for the Blackhawks. Turns out neither will his replacement in Lehtonen. Marty has been shaky in net this season and the other option in Corey Crawford is the one of the two goalies that is winning games for them.
While the Blackhawks have been a little less of a team then they were last season, the Stars have been on fire recently. Seven in a row before the overtime loss on Monday, I am hoping the Stars can get right back up on top tonight and get a win on the road against a team that will most likely be a playoff team and a top team come April. Andrew Raycroft will be in net for the Stars, as Lehtonen is out with “tightness” in his back. He was fine in practice this morning, but afterwards felt tight and sore in his back. So the Stars decided to sit him and give him a couple days of rest. They have called up Richard Bachman to be the backup, so Kari will be out tonight and could miss the next game too. But it sounds like just a precaution and the Stars are giving him rest knowing that Raycroft has been solid when called upon this season.
Another story line is the former Blackhawk Adam Burish returning to Chicago. The Stars grabbed him up because of the team being weak on the right wing and trying to add some grit, and Burish has done that for the Stars. He is a scrapper and tough guy, but he has also been a leader and slight boost for the team. He has played a lot recently with Steve Ott, and the two are creating trouble for other teams and getting under everyone’s skin on the ice. But along with that, the two seem to feed off of each other and have each chipped in some offense recently from that 3rd line for the Stars.
Chicago is now without another top scorer, after Patrick Kane will be out for about three weeks now with a leg injury. Marian Hossa is already out long term with an injury, so the Blackhawks will now be without two of their offensive weapons for at least a few weeks. The Stars might not want to face a crippled opponent, but the Blackhawks are still a talented team and will be playing at home in a building that is always tough for road teams.
Prediction: Stars 4, Blackhawks 2