Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Columbus Blue Jackets (6:00pm CST)


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The Blue Jackets are floundering. They're a very young team with shaky leadership in their locker room, and after a 5-1 loss to the Avs in Denver this week, they fired Coach Hitchcock. There might be a tendency to see the chaos and inconsistencies surrounding this team as a good reason why the Stars can get their 2nd road win in their last 12 tries, but I'm betting Marc Crawford knows better. They're still the Stars, and this is still a road game. Teams can come out and respond in a big way on the ice to getting their coach fired, or to impress the new one. This could potentially be a tough spot and Dallas will want to take care here.

This is the 4th and final meeting between these teams this season. Columbus has taken 2 out of 3 overall, and outscored Dallas 7-4 in the process. The last meeting in Ohio resulted in one of Dallas' three scoreless January games as Garon took what was essentially a 1-0 decision. (An empty net goal made it 2-0). Marty Turco played more than "good enough" to win that night, but the Blue Jackets defense was strong and the Stars did little to get any dangerous rubber at the net. Turco, having played only once in the last 10 days, will get the start. He will try to successfully follow up a 40 save performance at home against the Wild on Tuesday.

Turco has not won back to back games since December 31st against the Ducks after having defeated the Blackhawks 5-4 on December 29th. He does have the Stars lone road win in the last 8 weeks, a 4-3 win in Edmonton.

I think I can speak for most of us here at Defending Big D when I say that we still remember Hitch fondly, and wish him well in his next endeavor. Except the team Canada thing. I don't wish you well in that, Hitch.

If the Stars fired their coach after every beat down in Denver, we'd have seen a couple of new faces roll through here already this season, eh?

Follow the jump for more on the Stars and Jackets, and an injury update:

The Stars:

The key to breaking out of any slump is often said to be special teams and goaltending. The Stars will need both tonight if they are to pull an important two points out of Ohio. When last they met, the Stars went 0-for-5 on the PP, and gave up the winner on the PK. Dallas is 2 for their last 33 on the power play on the road. That's six percent. Six.

Mike Ribeiro skated a full practice yesterday in Frisco, and was said to be "the life of the practice." He filled in for Mike Modano, because lately for Mo, not practicing makes perfect. Credit Marc Crawford for sticking with what works.

The lines are expected to be as such:

Neal-Richards-Eriksson
Morrow-Benn-Ott
Brunnstrom-Modano-Lehtinen
Barch-Peters-Petersen

Grossman-Robidas
Skrastins-Daley
Fistric-Niskanen

The three game winning streak has eluded them, but a win tonight would be their first "won 4 of 5" streak. You don't throw a parade for winning 4 of 5, but it's baby steps with this thing right now.

The Blue Jackets:

Head over to SB Nation friends Jackets Cannon for their take on Hitch:

After much speculation, head coach Ken Hitchcock has been relieved of his head coaching duties. Claude Noel will take over as interim head coach. The writing has been on the wall for the last month or more, with the team taking a massive step backwards this season.

With the old adage being "you can't fire 23 players", you knew something had to give. Hitch's message wasn't being delivered, and the result was the team was in shambles on the ice. There was no semblance of structure, no commitment to a plan. It was painfully obvious. The question now becomes whether or not the players tuned him out, or if it was just a matter of the organization coming to the realization that his style wasn't conducive to the young, skilled players the team possesses. I think it's the latter.

And NHL.com recaps some of the quotes from the organization:

"It wasn't working," Howson said when asked at a news conference Wednesday evening about why the change was made. "The team wasn't responding to the message."

Noel will coach his first game Thursday, when the Blue Jackets host Dallas in the opener of a five-game homestand

"You're going to see some changes," Noel said at the news conference. "But I'm not going to reinvent the game."

 

Injuries:

Dallas: Wandell (knee), Ribeiro (throat) and Sutherby (upper body) are out. Sutherby is expected to miss a week, but knowing the way things go around here, I'd just assume he's out until after the Olympics. We shall see.

Columbus: Klesla is still out with that groin injury. Mike Commodore is day-to-day with a charlie horse in his left leg.

 

Go Stars.

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