After a monumental win against the Blackhawks in Chicago, the Stars head back down south, but to the desert in Arizona before they return to Dallas. The Stars smelled blood in the water and pounced on the Blackhawks, downing them by a score of 6-2. A big win for the Stars, who have now won three straight games, all without Tyler Seguin. Dallas hasn’t been bothered thus far without him, but will be without his services until mid-April. We’ll see what the next month has in store. Adding to the Blackhawks’ difficulties had to be a nice feeling, who were being booed by their home crowd at one point. I want to say the Hawks will be find during the playoffs, but there have been signs of worry with them. I actually did say not that long ago they’ll be okay. But Chicago hasn’t looked this bad since, say, 2007 or 2008. They just appear tired and uninterested. The Stars on the other hand have risen up to the challenge without Seguin. They catch the Coyotes tonight, who are coming off a win themselves, a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Not exactly the same difficulty level between the Oilers and Blackhawks, but the Coyotes desperately needed the offense to find some life. The Yotes scored 4 goals, after failing to register a goal in their previous two games. The Stars need to be careful here against Arizona. After such a big win, teams can fall into being lazy and taking the night off against their next opponent. The Coyotes are one of those teams who can be easy to take lightly, but can come and surprise on occasions.
I did say that the Coyotes are a squad that loves to beat up on the lesser teams in the league and falter against anybody worth anything. The Stars are worth something, so this is a nice opportunity for them to pick up a feel good win against Dallas. The Coyotes will be traversing the next couple of weeks in the regular season looking to finish above .500. With a record of 32-34-7 it’s a realistic goal. Conversely, the Stars are trying to hold onto 1st place in the Central. It’s going to be interesting how the Stars play without Seguin for the remainder of the regular season. If they play well, and then Seguin comes back and the Stars get bounced in the 1st round, it will make for some interesting fodder. Jason Spezza has picked up the slack, scoring a goal in each of the last five games. They will look to avoid a letdown tonight in the desert. Find my pick for Thursday night below.
Dallas Stars vs. Arizona Coyotes NHL Pick
Interesting note to mention: the Stars have not gone back to Antti Niemi since he got taken by the St. Louis Blues for 5 goals against the Blues a couple weeks back. Kari Lehtonen has shouldered the load since. Niemi has sat on the bench, after Lehtonen and Niemi shared the duties between the pipe. Lehtonen has been better, but the underlying issue here is that the Stars are in some sort of trouble on that front heading into the playoffs. They need some defense and goaltending to get through the long, grueling NHL playoff schedule, but it may not come to fruition.
The Stars are 24th in the NHL defensively, regressing backwards from a couple weeks ago where they were around 15th in the league. They have allowed 2.90 goals per game in their last ten games, but the kicker here is that the Stars also scored 3.60 goals a game. Getting that kind of offensive production isn’t always a sure thing in the playoffs, so this is why they need some defensive assistance to help out. If not, this is the same team that missed out on the playoffs last season.
I suspect this could be another one of those games where the Stars just simply outscore their opponent without needing much in the way of defense. The Coyotes are 27th in the NHL on defense, and I think the offense for the Stars should continue to be hot tonight. They have scored 13 goals in their last three games. Dallas has scored at least 3 goals in 8 of their past 10 games. However, Arizona should be able to find some offense again tonight and catch the Stars napping in this game. Like I said, the Stars might be a tad “hungover” from their win over the Blackhawks. Expect a final score in the realm of 4-3.
PICK: OVER 5.5 GOALS (-105)