Gameday Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Dallas Stars (7:00pm CST)

USA TODAY Sports

Toronto and Minnesota? That's one thing. The offensive machine that is the Pittsburgh Penguins? Another entirely.

Seven points back with two games in hand on Minnesota, the Dallas Stars cling to playoff hope after huge 7-1 and 4-0 wins over the Toronto Maple Leafs and Wild respectively.

Only seven games remain until the Olympic break, and to keep hope alive they face another one of these virtual road games at home against a Pittsburgh Penguin team sure to have significant support at the AAC tonight.

The good news is that Cody Eakin appears able to play tonight after being hit in the head by Colton Orr Thursday. Eakin did not skate at practice on Friday but Dustin Jeffrey has been assigned to the Texas Stars this morning, signaling his readiness.

Lines should remain the same:

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

History this season would suggest that Nichushkin bears watching tonight. Against elite teams with well above average talent he's been moved off that top line in favor of, looking at this configuration, someone like Peverley. If (when?) the Stars struggle to contain the Crosby or Malkin lines look for that.

While the Stars got off to a 1-8-1 start in 2014 the Penguins flipped the script, albeit it routine for them, posting a 7-1-1 mark so far in the new year.

The strength of their team is no mystery.

Kunitz-Crosby-Kobasew
Jokinen-Malkin-Neal
Glass-Sutter-Pyatt
Adams-Megna-Engelland

Only one forward in the league has seen more ice time this season that Sidney Crosby (Ryan Kesler). Only one forward has seen more power play time per game than Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (Alex Ovechkin).

One of the two of them is out there rougly two-thirds of the time, and with them they bring Kunitz and James Neal. Crosby has been directly involved in 72 of their 164 goals (over half) and on the ice for an even larger percentage. He leads the league in road points. and in home points. He's second in power play points.

That would be their power play that is first in the league at 25.0%.(22 of 88 on the road, 20 of 80 at home- Exactly 25.0% regardless of locale...)

After a shaky 5-6-1 start on the road this season the Pens have picked it up considerably, including a 2-0-1 trip through Western Canada earlier this month. They're now 10-3-1 in their last 14 away from Consol Energy Center.

If the Stars want to play an up-and-down speed game the Penguins will be happy to oblige, but unlike the blundering Maple Leafs Thursday night, they'll not be as careless with the puck. They were undeterred by a two goal deficit against the Islanders on the road, on a back-to-back on Thursday night, defeating them 6-4 on 29 shots.

How Ruff chooses to combat them will be interesting, as his team isn't built to slow down and defense, and a track meet with the best would seem suicidal.

This one's schedule to be the third straight 7:00pm home start (when's the last time that happened?) on Fox Sports Southwest. Penguins "faithful" have been requested to arrive Sunday at noon.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Defending Big D

You must be a member of Defending Big D to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Defending Big D. You should read them.

Join Defending Big D

You must be a member of Defending Big D to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Defending Big D. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker