Daily Matchup

March 11 – Day 148 – Central Shootout

Well, I don’t think anyone expected that one.  The Edmonton Oilers won 2-1 in Minnesota in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Edmonton‘s first goal was the lone tally of the first period.  Lauri Korpikoski was responsible, as his wrister, assisted by Mark Letestu (his 11th helper of the season) and Adam Clendening, found the back of the net at the 9:55 mark.

The Wild did the same thing in the second period, as Zach Parise’s 19th score of the season leveled the score at the 11:04 mark of the frame.

The Oilers‘ winner found the back of the net with 7:29 remaining in regulation, scored by the first pick of this season’s entry draft, Second Star Connor McDavid, who was assisted by Zack Kassian and Andrej Sekera (his 19th helper of the season).

First Star Cam Talbot earns the win after saving 29 of 30 shots faced (96.7%) while Third Star Darcy Kuemper takes the loss, saving 23 of 25 (92%).

After tonight’s Wild loss, the DtFR Game of the Day series stands at 65-38-15, favoring the home squad by 27 points over the roadies.

Five games will be played this evening, beginning with Pittsburgh visiting Columbus at 7 p.m. eastern, followed by Philadelphia at Tampa Bay half an hour later.  The Anaheim at St. Louis game drops the puck at 8 p.m. eastern, trailed 30 minutes later by Chicago at Dallas (NHLN).  Finally, Arizona at Calgary, this evening’s nightcap, gets its start at 9 p.m. eastern.

Most of tonight’s games are divisional rivalries (Pittsburgh at Columbus, Chicago at Dallas and Arizona at Calgary), and two contests are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Anaheim at St. Louis and Chicago at Dallas).

Chicago and Dallas are currently tied for the Central Division and Western Conference lead, so you gotta believe we’re keeping an eye on that one!







This will be Chicago‘s 20th appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 10-7-2 record.  Their most recent showing in our series was February 25, a 3-1 loss on home ice to the Predators.  Dallas has been featured a little more recently, as they fell to the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime on February 29.  That was their ninth game in our series, and set their series record at 5-0-4.

The 41-21-6 Chicago Blackhawks are currently the best in both the Central Division and Western Conference, and trail only Washington for the distinction of best in the league.  To get to that position, they’ve played one of the most well-rounded games – the sixth best in both offense and defense.

Led by Patrick Kane’s 239 shots, the Hawks have fired the puck 2096 times, with 9.2% finding the back of the net for 193 goals (led by Kane’s 38 tallies), the sixth most in the NHL.  The offense has been spearheaded by the power play, as their 24.15% success rate, good for 50 goals (led by Kane’s 15 extra man tallies), ranks best in the league.

The defense has been just as good.  Even with Trevor van Riemsdyk’s 135 blocks,  Chicago has allowed 2094 shots to reach 35-16-4 Corey Crawford and co., but they’ve been nothing short of remarkable, collectively saving 92.6% for only 163 goals allowed, the sixth fewest in the league.  The Blackhawks aren’t perfect though.  Their special teams only neutralize 78.65% of their penalties – allowing 41 opposing power play goals in the process – the seventh worst rate in the league.  Never fear though, they do help themselves by having scored seven shorthanded goals so far this year, two more than the league average.

Chicago‘s last game was a 3-2 shootout loss in St. Louis on Wednesday.  As they are tied on points with the Stars, a win this evening is important as the season comes down to the wire, as the Hawks would like to clinch home ice throughout the Western Conference tournament.

The 40-20-8 Dallas Stars occupy second place in both the Central Division and Western Conference due to losing a regulation+overtime tiebreaker to this evening’s competition.  It has been the offense that has led the way, as the Stars have scored the most goals in the league, but they’ve also given up the eighth most goals against.

Led by Tyler Seguin’s 261 shots, the Stars have fired the puck an incredible 2195 times, with 9.8% finding the back of the net for 218 goals, the most in the NHL.  That success starts with the power play, as their 21.96% success rate, good for 47 power play goals (led by Jamie Benn’s 14 extra man tallies), ranks seventh best in the NHL.

It has been the defense, specifically the goaltending, that has held Dallas back this season.  Led by Johnny Oduya’s 146 blocks, the Stars have allowed 1980 shots to reach 22-12-6 Antti Niemi and co., of which they’ve saved only 90.4% for 196 goals against, the eighth most in the league.  The penalty kill hasn’t helped matters, defending only 79.9% of their infractions for 41 power play goals against, the 11th worst rate in the NHL.  To help make up for those goals, the Stars have scored nine shorthanded goals (led by Cody Eakin’s three shorties), four more than the league average.

Dallas lost their most recent game 4-3, a Tuesday night contest in Montréal.  With a win tonight, the Stars would reclaim the division and conference lead, but a loss could allow the Blues to take their second place position.

Dallas currently leads the season series 2-1-0, but is 1-1-0 on home ice.  The Stars won the most recent meeting 4-2 in Chicago on February 11.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Chicago‘s Crawford (seven shutouts [leads the league], .929 save percentage [tied for the league lead], 35 wins [second most in the league] and 2.21 GAA [tied for seventh best in the league]), Kane (89 points [leads the league], 51 assists [second most in the league] and 38 goals [second most in the league]) and Artemi Panarin (62 points [10th most in the league]) & Dallas‘ Benn (73 points [second most in the league], 32 goals [tied for fourth most in the league] and 41 assists [tied for ninth most in the league]), John Klingberg (43 assists [seventh most in the league]) and Seguin (68 points [tied for fourth most in the league] and 32 goals [tied for fourth most in the league]).

Choosing a winner in tonight’s game is tough.  Both squads have exceptional offenses, which doesn’t exactly play into Dallas‘ favor, but should the Blackhawks commit a lot of penalties, this game can stay tight.  The overall better team is the visitors, so I’ll pick the Blackhawks.

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