Ken Armer and I will be doing a joint Chicago Blackhawks-Dallas Stars preview for tonight's Halloween matchup. Hope you enjoy the dual preview.
Michael Wagner's Game Preview
Halloween night is usually when all the ghosts and goblins come out; but tonight it will be the Blackhawks and Stars who will be coming out to party.
Last season, the 'Hawks and Stars split their four-game series, but this season things have changed drastically. The Stars were one of the Western Conference favorites coming into the season, but have struggled in the early going, posting a 4-4-2 record. The 'Hawks are in a similar boat as the Stars. They came into the season with high expectations, but early on the 'Hawks have struggled to get points and have been unable to close the deal in overtime this season.
Both teams are coming off games versus the Minnesota Wild; the Stars were able to hand the Wild their first loss in regulation, whereas the 'Hawks were unable to crack the wall that is Niklas Backstrom.
The biggest problem the 'Hawks had against the Wild was their goaltending. Cristobal Huet was very ineffective, allowing a soft goal to Antti Miettinen that proved to be the difference between a loss and overtime.
Tonight against the Stars, look for Nikolai Khabibulin to get the start with Coach Joel Quenneville still trying to determine who the 'Hawks' true number one starter is. The 'Hawks have always had a difficult time against the Stars and this year should be no different.
The Stars' major strength is their depth up the middle, which is a luxury that the 'Hawks wish they had. This depth at center will more than likely cause a problem for the 'Hawks' defense.
For the 'Hawks to be successful against the Stars tonight they will need to be physical early—especially Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, who will need to go up against the likes of Steve Ott and everyone's favorite agitator, Sean Avery.
Player to Watch
If "Big Buff" can take the body early against the Stars, look for that to open him up offensively with his heavy slap shot from the point.
Projected Chicago Blackhawks Lineup
Nikolai Khabibulin (Subject to Change)
TV: CSN-Chicago+ (HD)
Radio: WGN News/Talk 720
Ken Armer's Game Preview
Coming into the Halloween night game between the Dallas Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks, there is one key factor: The last opponent for both teams was the Minnesota Wild. For Dallas, the Stars put together a strong defense to help get rookie goaltender Tobias Stephan his first victory as a starter. Furthermore, Dallas got good scoring, especially in the first period, which is the main key for a team looking to win the Stanley Cup.
Chicago lost a close match to the Minnesota Wild; with the combination of Toews and Kane this is a very dangerous team. On the flip side, with Brad Richards coming off of his best game so far this season and Steve Ott and Sean Avery in the lineup, the Stars should be able to shut down this talented pair.
The Stars' depth at center could really punch a hole in the Blackhawks. Furthermore, if the Stars have stopped the bleeding in the goaltending situation, this team could get very dangerous very quickly.
The question for game time is whether Tobias Stephan will start again. I say give him the chance.
Injuries (As Reported by the Dallas Morning News)
Dallas: D Doug Janik (eye) is questionable. LW Joel Lundqvist (shoulder), RW Jere Lehtinen (groin), and D Sergei Zubov (hip) are out.
Chicago: D James Wisniewski (knee) is out.
The Dallas Stars face the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center at 7:30 p.m. Central on October 31. Television coverage in the Dallas area will be by Fox Sports Net Southwest and radio coverage will be by WBAP-AM 820.