Fresh off a 4-2 win in Nashville last night, the Dallas Stars return home to face the Detroit Red Wings on the second half of a back to back for the second time in December. The Stars swept a back to back set in Columbus and Detroit 10 days ago and denied Chris Osgood his 400th win when Loui Eriksson completed the Stars comeback by potting the overtime winner at Joe Louis Arena. Now the Red Wings make their second visit to the AAC this season, intent upon repaying the favor.
This is game 15 of 16 in December for the Stars, their busiest month of the season. They've fared well through that gauntlet, boasting an 8-3-3 record this month heading into tonight's game, but they've lost the last two games on home ice and need the points to maintain their slim lead in the Pacific Division.
Dallas is 3-3 on the second night of back to backs this season. All six thus far had been on the road, however. The Stars have earned points in 13 of their last 14 home games.
The Stars begin the night in third place in the conference, but can tie the Wings once again with a win and claim another share of first place while Vancouver is idle following their win over Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
This was to be Mike Modano's second (and perhaps final?) trip to the American Airlines Center this year but a wrist injury keeps him on the IR at home. There is still a chance the Stars could see him in late February when they wrap up the season series in Detroit.
Continued after the jump...
Illness has plagued the Stars locker room this week. Nick Grossman and Tom Wandell did not make the trip to Nashville and both missed their second consecutive game with "illness". Razor called it the "Swedish flu," jokingly on the broadcast and suggested (perhaps in jest) that Loui Eriksson also had it but got over it faster. We'll have to ask around about that.
Either way, fresh (healthy) legs would be a good thing coming off a tough game in Nashville so we'll see if either of these guys takes part in morning skate and then go from there. The burden of killing penalties would be lessened by the return of Nick Grossman, though Mark Fistric filled in well in his absence, particularly in the area of physicality.
Andrew Raycroft was a bit of a surprise start in net last night, though we should get used to such things as the season unfolds. Nearly every time Marc Crawford gives "Rayzor" the call, he delivers flawlessly, as was the case last night.
This leaves Kari Lehtonen rested and ready for a pair of tests against the Western Conference's elite teams in Detroit and Vancouver in front of very full barns to closer out the week, month, and year. Seriously, if you want tickets you better get on it because I hear there are very few to be had.
Detroit has not won in Dallas since Jan 5th, 2008.
Mighty Detroit, or so we sometimes think, has collected 13 points in their last ten games to Dallas' 14 in their last ten. Injuries and the rigors of the busy Western Conference schedule have brought them down to earth a little bit. While they're still quite possibly the best team in the West, the gap between them and the field is not as great as once thought.
Detroit has a similar narrative to Nashville in that they're currently experiencing injuries to several key offensive cogs in their system. Pavel Datsyuk is out with a hand injury and now their leading goal scorer Dan Cleary has a broken ankle and will miss some time.