Dallas Stars vs. Chicago Blackhawks Dec. 10 Game Preview

By Graham Jenkins
Antoine Roussel vs. Andrew Shaw
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

For the fourth time in just over a month, the Dallas Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks meet again in another crucial Central Division matchup Tuesday night at the American Airlines Center.

The Stars are 1-1-1 against the Blackhawks this season. They won 4-3 in regulation in the last matchup on December 3 that saw a spirited fight between Antoine Roussel and Andrew Shaw. Kari Lehtonen made 47 saves on 50 shots, and Roussel taunted the United Center crowd after scoring the go-ahead penalty shot goal. The Blackhawks will certainly keep that in mind when they play on Tuesday night.

Lehtonen is expected to get the start tonight for the Stars while Antti Raanta will be in net for the Blackhawks in place of Corey Crawford, who is out at least two weeks with a groin injury. Lehtonen has a 2.25 goals against average (GAA) and a .926 save percentage while his Finnish counterpart Raanta comes in to Tuesday night’s matchup with a 2.16 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

The Stars won 5-1 against the Philadelphia Flyers in their most recent game. Tyler Seguin scored a natural hat trick in the second period, and Valeri Nichushkin scored his first home goal of the season. The Blackhawks won their most recent game December 8 against the Florida Panthers 6-2 but lost Crawford during the game.

The Blackhawks are the best 5-on-5 puck possession team in the NHL when the score is close, sporting a Fenwick-For Percentage (FF Percent) of 56.6 percent. The Stars have a “score close” FF Percent of 52.5 percent which puts them at eighth overall. If the Stars do not come out of the gate with a high amount of energy, the Blackhawks could attempt close to 85 shots against Lehtonen like they did on December 3.

While the Stars lost their first two games against the Blackhawks, they kept up in the puck possession battle during 5-on-5 play, sporting a FF Percent of 52.9 percent on November 9 and a FF Percent of 53.1 percent on November 29. The Stars will have to repeat those possession performances tonight against the Blackhawks if they want to continue their climb up the Central Division standings.

One thing the Stars must fix is their abysmal power play, especially at home. On December 7 against the Flyers, the Stars had seven minutes of power play time in the beginning of the first period and did not score. They were 0-for-5 against the Flyers overall. As a matter of fact, the Stars’ home power play is so awful the Stars have scored more shorthanded goals (three) than power play goals (one) at home. Their power play is going to need to cash in in the near future if they want to win against the cream of the crop in the Western Conference.

The puck drops at 7:30 PM CT.

Graham Jenkins is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @JenkinsSports, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google.

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