Two of the NHL’s most surprising teams this season face off Monday night in Texas as the Dallas Stars (7-8-5) host the Chicago Blackhawks (13-8-5). Dallas has surprised observers by plummeting to the bottom of the standings after competing in the Stanley Cup Final last season, while the Blackhawks have exceeded expectations despite being hit hard by injuries and illnesses.
The Stars are home favorites at (-129) while the underdog Blackhawks are (+112). Puck drop is at 8:30 P.M. Eastern.
Chicago Blackhawks Preview
In sad hockey news, defenseman Brent Seabrook, who has not played this season, announced his retirement from the NHL last week. Seabrook underwent shoulder surgery and multiple hip surgeries last year and had yet to fully recover. He ends his career with 103 goals and 361 assists in 1,114 games and the third-most games played for any Blackhawks skater.
However, Seabrook’s absence has paved the way for young defensemen like Nicolas Beaudin, Lucas Carlsson, Ian Mitchell, and Adam Boqvist, all of whom are on their entry-level deals, to step up and shine. Boqvist leads all Blackhawks defensemen in points this season with a goal and nine assists.
Several other young players have stepped up this season as well. Pius Suter (eight goals, five assists) leads all rookies in goals, and Philipp Kurashev (six goals, four assists) is close behind him. Kevin Lankinen looks like the long-term answer in net for Chicago. Lankinen has a 9-4-4 record this season with a 2.76 GAA, and a .919 save percentage, and a shutout.
While he won’t be in the lineup Tuesday night, center Kirby Dach skated with the team on Monday for the first time since breaking his wrist at World Juniors. Dach likely still has a few more weeks before he’s good to go and is expected to return in mid-April.
Dallas Stars Preview
While things on the injury front are looking promising for the Blackhawks, they couldn’t be looking worse for Dallas.
Alexander Radulov is on Injured Reserve with a lower-body injury and no timetable for his return. Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop are also still several weeks away from making their season debuts. Seguin, in particular, will be welcomed back, as other than Joe Pavelski (12 goals, 11 assists), few Stars forwards are pulling their weight this season.
Roope Hintz (five goals, seven assists) is second among forwards in points but will miss Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury. Captain Jamie Benn has scored four goals and seven assists but has been a non-factor on the power-play unit. Dallas’ second-leading point scorer, defenseman John Klingberg, will also likely miss Tuesday’s game, but for a much better reason than the others. Klingberg’s wife gave birth Saturday morning, and Klingberg may take time off to be with the newborn.
On to the Pick
Chicago has been a better team than Dallas this season and seeing them as an underdog has my full attention.
Take the Blackhawks (+112) to win Tuesday night and run with the favorable odds on the better squad.
Free Betting Pick: Chicago Blackhawks (+112)