Having played four of their first six games on the road and two home dates with tough Red Wings and Blues teams, the Stars emerge with a 5-1-0 record and enter a stretch of six straight games in the comfy confines of the American Airlines Center. This is a big chance to really elongate this excellent start and put points in the bank early to help deal with the inevitable struggles and injuries that all NHL teams must face over the course of 82 games.
Craig Ludwig said last night on Stars Live that he feels teams can get a little complacent at home, and that the Stars simple, straight forward road game last night in Florida is the kind of mentality they need to bring with them into this stretch. Hard to argue with that. Can the Stars keep their focus? Can they get off to a good start within the Pacific division? Will the Texas Rangers continue wrecking home attendance through the first week of November?
Let's take a look at each game and do a little preview of sorts, then vote for how many wins you think the Stars can rack up in this stretch.
#1. Saturday, October 23rd. Nashville Predators: The Predators come to Dallas having lost three straight, though all three were overtime or the shootout. Their 3-0-3 record makes them one of the best teams in the western conference despite some key injuries and having lost the talent they did in the off-season. They've scored only 5 total goals in the last 3 games but played a very competitive, back and forth contest against the Penguins on Thursday while the Stars were in Sunrise. Nashville could have the advanatage of a very quiet Stars home crowd if the Rangers should be playing game 7 at the same time. Either way, the Preds always come to play good, hard hockey against Dallas. Jordin Tootoo also shows up.
#2. Tuesday, October 26th. Anaheim Ducks: Both teams will have Sunday and Monday off before squaring off at the AAC on Tuesday. The Ducks lost their first three games of the season in shockingly lopsided efforts that had people around the league saying simply "The Ducks are going to be BAD." Since then they've gone 3-1-1 beating good teams like Vancouver and Philadelphia along the way. They'll meet with Detroit again before coming to Dallas on Tuesday to open the Stars' Pacific Division play. I'd like to think this one should be a win but the Ducks are getting better with each game.
Games three through six after the jump...
#3. Thursday, October 28th. Los Angeles Kings: The Kings are currently tied for third in the league in GA/G at 2.17. They don't score a ton (2.60 G/G) but they don't give up much either. This will be a big test for the Stars as I believe that the Kings (rather unfortunately) have a good shot at taking down the Sharks and winning the Pacific division this season. Good for the Stars: Their power plays has been dreadful so far. Bad for the Stars: They're killing penalties at 92.3%. Los Angeles will come to Dallas the second half of a back to back, so the Stars have an advantage there as well.
#4. Saturday, October 30th. Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres (yes, it was a goal) started their season with four of five at home and lost every single one of them. They've won two of three on the road, however, so maybe they'll just be better away from upstate New York? With four games to play for the Sabres between now and the 30th it's a little difficult to gauge their temperature coming in. They defeated the Stars 5-4 in a shootout their last trip to Texas in January of 2009. With Ryan Miller, you never know, but the Sabres will be on the second half of a back to back and we think the Stars have a good shot here.
#5. Wednesday, November 3rd. Pittsburgh Penguins: The big story here is whether or not the Rangers will continue in the MLB playoffs and subsequently ruin one of the Stars' big marquee home dates with Sid the Kid coming to the AAC. Imagine there is a Rangers World Series game that night...Is this still a sellout? Hard to see it. At 5-3-0 the Penguins are off a good start, of course. They score well over 3 goals a game and have won all three of their road games so far, so this will definitely be a tough one. Like the Stars they will have three full days of rest before the puck drops. Could be a tough spot here. The Penguins play very well in their rare trips to Texas.
#6. Friday, November 5th. Phoenix Coyotes: This is the one I am looking forward to the most. The Stars had a LARGE amount of trouble with the Coyotes last year. Dave Tippett knew which buttons to push in Dallas and he would bend over backward, back-to-back or not, to make absolutely certain that the Stars faced Bryzgalov every single time. I expect nothing less this go around. This is a big division game and it's important to get off to a good start against these teams with whom they have six match ups. Like the Kings they have a terrible PP but a high PK%. The only road game they've won so far was opening night in Prague.