Preview: Varlamov Arrest, Max Talbot Trade Accompany Colorado to Matchup Against Stars

Doug Pensinger

The best team in the league (.909 points percentage) rolls into American Airlines Center Friday night to test the struggling Stars.

The Dallas Stars find themselves right where they were a week ago tonight against the Colorado Avalanche: Finding a way to get back to .500.

"I think we are getting closer to where we want to be," Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said Thursday. "We've really cut down on the careless plays of late. I want to see us creating more, there were some opportunities to carry the puck over the line where we gave up possession."

The speed of the opposition tonight would feast on such mistakes quicker and more often than the Canadiens did Tuesday. Dallas played Colorado well in their first meeting, greatly out-shooting them in a losing effort.

The Avalanche, meanwhile, enter the proceedings with a high profile and some rather newsy happenings in their wake.

If you've been without electricity for the last 48 hours then you may not know that their number-one goaltender Semyon Varlamov was arrested Wednesday night for assault, but has since been released and may be joining the team in Dallas today. Colorado has not re-called another netminder.

"We're not allowed to comment on his situation," center Matt Duchene told the Denver Post, "but it's not going to affect us. We're focused on (Friday) night. We're waiting to see what happened, but we're not letting it affect us at all ... Obviously, it's an unfortunate situation and hopefully gets resolved very soon, but we're focused on hockey right now."

Their GM was focused on hockey as well, trading "feisty" forward Steve Downie to the Philadelphia Flyers for Max Talbot straight-up, so there's a variety of new dynamics and attention-grabbers that figure to have Colorado focused tonight.

The puck will drop around 7:38pm tonight on Fox Sports Southwest PLUS, so check your cable provider's listings.

The Stars:

Dallas has experienced more good than bad at home this season, but can always be better. Lindy Ruff was asked about his home power play Thursday, which can help them get there, but is 0-16 at American Airlines Center so far.

"I think we can do things differently," Ruff said of that power play. "It starts with trying to get a little too fancy and not getting enough pucks to the net, passing around the perimeter when you have seams to get it there."

With the gift of (relative) health in the season's first month the lineup remains the same, and it's the details of their game on which they must be focused, rather than shuffling lineups and circumstances. Once again things should shake out like this...


Gonchar-Jordie Benn


According to Stars PR: "The Stars return home Friday night to take on the Colorado Avalanche in a matchup of Central Division rivals. Dallas boasts a 31-17-8 record against the Avalanche at home. The Stars come into Friday's contest having earned points in four of their last five (3-1-1) against Colorado at American Airlines Center, and are 9-3-1 against the Avalanche at home since the start of the 2006-07 season."

The Avalanche:

As when these two met up on October 15th, things are nothing but good for the Colorado Avalanche. The Detroit Red wings are the only team that have bested them in 11 games. No other has even managed to get them into overtime. That is saying something.

Their 92% penalty kill only has to work 3.5 times a game and has only surrendered goals to Detroit (two in the loss) and Dallas (one in what should probably have been a loss).

Colorado is a perfect 5-0-0 on the road, though curiously this is their first Western Conference road game, having beaten Toronto, Boston, Washington, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
They've allowed four goals in five road games. Total.

Heading into their first game against Dallas the Avalanche were knocked for allowing over 35 shots-per-game but are well on their way to cleaning it up in only giving up an average of 29 since.

The trade and the news-related items of the week could affect them, but this figures to be a very tough match-up for Dallas here tonight. J.S. Giguere starting isn't exactly an advantage for Dallas. He has a silly GAA (0.67) and SV% (.981) and he two shutouts on the road already (Boston, Pittsburgh).

Speculation is that their new lineup could look like this:




Noted Stars-killers: Duchene, who likes this building. Alex Tanguay and Giguere, of course.

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