Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ New York Rangers (6:00pm CST)


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Dallas Stars
@ New York Rangers

Wednesday, Jan 6, 2010, 6:00 PM CST
Madison Square Garden

Local TV: FS SW (not on Dish Network tonight)

Local Radio: 1310 The Ticket (listen online @ stars.nhl.com)

Complete Coverage >


"Points are at a premium. We’re only 42 games in, but other teams are
getting points and we need to get ours."

-Brenden Morrow

Indeed, Mr. Morrow. Indeed. Until last night, the Stars were consistently inching their way forward even in defeat. They had yet to lose back to back regulation games, going 9-0-2 in games following a loss with no point. Their 11 OTL points are not exactly pretty, but they've kept the Stars in the game. Now they have their first real losing streak of the season, and must defeat a pretty good Ranger team on the road on the second night of a back to back to stop the bleeding.

Stars fans have been able to take solace in the fact that 4th or 5th place has been only 4-6 points away all season long. That's no longer the case now that the Stars have gone 5 days without earning a point. Vancouver has roared past them, and Phoenix is pulling away a bit, 9 points ahead. 8th place is now 6 points out of Dallas' grasp. It's like Brenden Morrow said... they need points. A two game losing streak doesn't sound like a big deal, but that's life in the Western Conference this year.

We talked more specifically about the game last night on the Defending Big D Live Post Game Show, which you can listen to here. We talked about the decision to start Alex Auld in the first game of a road trip and what kind of tone  that sets. We mused about why Steve Ott was so angry last night. We wondered why cross checking someone in the head is only worth a 2 minute minor penalty. Mostly we tried to find a reason for the utterly apathetic, passionless, lackluster effort the Stars gave last night. I think I heard Razor use the word "capitulation" on the broadcast. That fit the bill quite nicely.

So the Stars find themselves at MSG tonight, in need of a good slap in the face and a bucket of cold water thrown on them. They need a catalyst. They need some confidence. Points 48 and 49 cannot wait much longer. Oh yeah, and Sean Avery will be there. Whoopee.

Follow the jump for a look at the Rangers, and quotes from the "game" last night...

The Stars:

Mike Heika talked to Marc Crawford after the game last night:

"Brodeur was really good tonight. He stopped every chance we had and was solid," Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "We have to have more patience, and we didn't show patience very well at times tonight."

But the question remains: What are the Stars good at? As they head to Manhattan to play the New York Rangers Wednesday night, the Stars are 4-5-2 in their last 11 games and are 18-13-11 overall. They're in the heat of a battle to push themselves into the top eight in the Western Conference and yet they don't seem to be playing with that desperation.

"The process to me is what's important. ... Why is it happening?" Crawford asked. "It happened tonight because we didn't win puck battles. ... Am I concerned about goals going in? Yeah. Am I concerned about lack of scoring? Yeah. But if you win puck battles and you play with determination, those things sort themselves out."

Mike hits the nail on the head with the desperation thing. Where is the desperation? Marc Crawford is talking about determination instead.

Dallas stars.com:

"We have to have more patience and we did show patience very well at times tonight," Crawford said. "They are a very good countering team and that is what they are good at. We got off our game in the second and that was disappointing."

Personally, I believe that every team is becoming a good "countering team" against the Stars. The way the Stars play coach Crawford's system is affording teams the time to sit and wait for them to make a mistake. The Devils made no mistake on their odd man rushes last night, or Benn's turnover at the blue line. Every mistake ended up in the net. The Stars, meanwhile, had odd-man rushes that didn't even produce shots on goal.

"You can't give a team like this any opportunities," Auld said. "Mistakes end up in the back of your net. On the other end, they have the best goaltender in the world. They capitalized on our mistakes tonight. It's what they do."

I have yet to see if the Stars had a morning skate today and what the lines looked like. Perhaps they took another field trip to a tall building.

I think it's safe to say that Marty Turco will be in net tonight to face Henrik Lundqvist. The Stars met the Rangers twice last season, winning both meetings. The game in Dallas you might remember, as the Stars poured 10 goals on the Blue Shirts.

Tonight's game is one of the 20 that Dish Network will not carry.

The Rangers:

New York is 6-2-2 in their last ten games, yet somehow have scored only 9 goals in their last 5 (1.8 GPG). If the Stars are looking to unclog the pipes offensively, so to speak, tonight may not be the night. Aside from an uncharacteristic 6-0 loss to Philadelphia last week, you have to go back to Thanksgiving weekend to find the last time the Rangers allowed a team to score more than three goals on them.

Conversely, Mike Heika says the Stars have allowed 4 or more goals in 7 of their last 8 road games.

The New York Daily News has the recap of the Rangers latest; A win at home over the Bruins:

Henrik Lundqvist hadn't even simmered down from losing his shutout with 5:27 left in the third period Monday night before the Rangers had given up another goal to tie the game. But then Christopher Higgins scored the go-ahead goal with 1:29 to play, lifting the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Bruins at the Garden in a game the Blueshirts had controlled the whole way, but nearly let slip away.

And now, just maybe, the dust will settle and something will stick from this victory and send someone other than Marian Gaborik onto an actual hot streak, because on a night when the Slovak superstar did not score a goal, the Rangers managed to pot three anyway - only the second time since Oct. 19 that they've reached that number without Gaborik pitching in. And they got there with Higgins' first point in 12 games and Ales Kotalik's first goal in 22, with Erik Christensen's second-period tally giving the Rangers a lead that seemed comfortable until it was gone.

"Forget about those two plays - we got two points," was how Brandon Dubinsky framed it, and several other Rangers wondered afterward why they have been taking such grief when they are 6-1-2 in their last nine games.

"We knew we were going to win that game - I mean, we were playing pretty well," said Higgins, whose winning goal was his first this season at the Garden. "Throw out that Philadelphia game, we've been playing some pretty good hockey."

They sound, if nothing else, like a confident bunch.

Injuries: The Stars remain healthy. The Rangers are without Vinny Prospal (knee)

We hope to see everyone in the Gameday Thread tonight. We can all be miserable (or not) together.

p.s. Go USA!

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