Stephen Johns

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns in the midst of frustrating season with Stars

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns in the midst of frustrating season with Stars

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns was like the rest of the Dallas Stars entering this season: he was optimistic, for his own game but also for the Stars, the team coming off a solid postseason and bringing a strong lineup back.

The season has been nothing but a disappointment, however, for the Stars, for a lot of their players and definitely for Johns, who has been in and out of the lineup.

“We have a pretty young team and most of these guys have played on teams that have always had the chance to win the championship of whatever league,” Johns said. “It’s tough for a lot of us right now. I’ve never been on a team that’s missed the playoffs. You have to stick together and get through it together and win as many games as you can. But it’s tough. It sucks.”

Johns will be a healthy scratch on Thursday when the Stars face the Blackhawks. The Stars are coming off a 1-0 victory against the San Jose Sharks and, like most coaches, Lindy Ruff is hesitant to change a lineup after a victory. Johns has played in 55 games this season. For the 24-year-old defenseman who was considered a great present-and-future piece of the deal that sent he and Patrick Sharp from the Blackhawks to the Stars in the summer of 2015, it’s been frustrating.

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“It’s all about confidence at this point and trying to find it,” Johns said. “It’s easy to lose your confidence and hard to get it back. It’s just finding it and sticking with it, blocking negative plays out and not letting it affect you, but it’s tough.”

It would be easy to think forward to next season. The Stars are all but eliminated from this postseason and, with some good health, perhaps they could get back to where they were in the 2015-16 season. Johns, too. Instead, he’ll focus on trying to make the final games of this season as positive as possible.

“You can’t look too far ahead into the future. Right now we have 10 games left and we just have to focus on those 10 games because nobody knows what’s going to happen in the summer,” Johns said. “It’s more about focusing this year on a positive note and then whatever happens, happens.”

Blackhawks looking for more consistent game vs. Stars

Blackhawks looking for more consistent game vs. Stars

DALLAS – Corey Crawford will get the start and Jordin Tootoo draws back into the lineup when the Blackhawks face the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

The Blackhawks are coming off a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. In that game they were outstanding at the start before having a lousy second period. The Stars may be struggling with inconsistency and injuries but the Blackhawks know they can’t take them lightly.

“They gave us a really hard time last year. This year when you look at the lineup they still have so much firepower up front,” Marian Hossa said. “They’re dangerous on the power play so we have to be smart, play 5-no-5 as much as you can. And just don’t give the first line much room because it can shoot it so quick and it can hurt you.”

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The Stars are not that far off from a possible postseason berth and Stephen Johns said the Stars are confident they can get there.

“We all believe and we all know we’re going to somehow find a way to get in. That has to be our main focus going down the stretch,” Johns said. “We don’t want a four-or five-month summer. We want to be here as long as possible. It’s fun coming to the rink every day. It’s a great group of guys; we have a lot of fun together. The results haven’t been what we expected but there’s still time.”

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.

TV: WGN

Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks forward lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Gustav Forsling-Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries

Michal Rozsival (lower body)

Stars forward lines (via Dallas Morning News)

Jamie Benn-Cody Eakin-Patrick Eaves

Antoine Roussel-Tyler Seguin-Brett Ritchie

Devin Shore-Radek Faksa-Patrick Sharp

Curtis McKenzie-Adam Cracknell-Lauri Korpikoski

Defensive pairs

Esa Lindell-John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis-Jordie Benn

Patrik Nemeth-Stephen Johns

Goaltender

Kari Lehtonen

Injuries

Jason Spezza (upper body), Johnny Oduya (lower body), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)