Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ St. Louis Blues (7:00pm CST)

Dilip Vishwanat

The Stars will face former captain Brenden Morrow for the first time since the trade last March tonight in St. Louis.

If the Dallas Stars (who have won just three of eight this season at the AAC) need pointers on how to win at home they need look no further than the St. Louis Blues.

Ken Hitchcock's bunch is 9-1-2 at Scottrade Center and only the Minnesota Wild have a better home points percentage. How they do it looks simple: In their last seven home games they've allowed 20, 24, 19, 20, 20, 23 and 21 shots against for an average of a scant 21 per while on the other side scoring over 3.66 goals a contest.

The Stars, as you've surely heard a hundred times by now, come in feeling pretty good about themselves on the road, however, boasting a six-game win streak away from the AAC. They'll hope to continue it tonight in an effort to wash the sour taste of Henrick Lundqvist out of their collective mouth after Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Rangers.

As daunting as this one looks on paper it will not be without sentimentality as Stars fans and personnel alike will finally see Brenden Morrow play his first game against the franchise that raised him.

Other side shows will include Lindy Ruff versus Ken Hitchcock, as it was all those years ago, and former Star Derek Roy will also be present- But the Stars, now eight points behind the top-eight in the West, need to concentrate on the full two points tonight.

The puck drops just after 7:00pm on TXA-21 locally.

The Stars:

Dallas' next three opponents (St. Louis, Anaheim, Chicago) are the first, second and third place teams in the entire NHL, and Lindy Ruff knows it's a measuring stick opportunity.

"It's tough to get inside," he told media yesterday. "Maybe the best defense in the league, or close to it. It's going to be an opportunity to see where we are at."

Ray Whitney is still questionable with his lower body injury so lines could stay as they've been.

Benn-Seguin-Nichushkin
Cole-Eakin-Chiasson
Roussel-Fiddler-Peverley
Jeffrey-Horcoff-Garbutt

Kari Lehtonen should start in goal.

The Stars made a minor trade yesterday sending forward Lane MacDermid, newly cleared through waivers, to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 6th round pick in the 2014 draft.

From Stars PR: "The Stars return to the road to faceoff against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. The team is currently on a six-game road winning streak and have won seven of their last eight contests away from Dallas. The Stars have the longest active road winning streak and are one of only two NHL clubs to register six straight road victories this season (Colorado other). A win on Saturday night would extend the streak to seven, which would mark the sixth road-winning streak of at least seven games in the entire NHL since the start of the 2010-11 season."

The Blues:

With the league best points percentage of .786 (an absurd 129 point pace...) the Blues can safely be called the best team in hockey as I write this before Friday's action. They're top ten in offense and defense, and they have the third best Fenwick close percentage in the league (shot total possession stats), which would indicate they'll have nothing but success moving forward.

They also have a good power play. It's the best in the league (as of Friday afternoon) at 25.3% and the third best at home at an astounding 29.6%. On the flip side their average penalty kill is 25th at home, but the Stars probably don't want to get into a special teams contest here tonight.

Take special teams out of it and you see that the Blues have the best 5-on-5 GF/GA ratio in the league at 1.58, meaning that at even strength for every three they score the opposition is getting less than two. Pretty salty.

St. Louis is 12-1-2 when scoring first. Combining that with their disinclination to allow the opposition shots and it's clear to see that falling behind puts the Stars at a severe disadvantage tonight. Kari Lehtonen may have to duplicate Lundqvist's effort of Thursday night (and his own last Sunday in Vancouver) to pull points out of this one.

Blues possible lineup:

Steen-Backes-Oshie
Morrow-Roy-Stewart
Schwarz-Sobotka-Tarasenko
Paajarvi-Lapierre-Reaves

Pietrangelo-Bouwmeester
Jackman-Shattenkirk
Cole-Polak

Halak

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