Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Phoenix Coyotes (8:00pm CST)

Christian Petersen

McRibs and his "six shades of sexy' reunite with the Dallas Stars this evening in Glendale.

It took the Dallas Stars until the first week of February to finally meet the Phoenix Coyotes, but all indications were it was worth the wait.

Three points separate them. Both have played 55 games. Phoenix has scored 159 goals. Dallas 158. Phoenix is 5-4-1 in their last 10. Dallas, 5-3-2. Both have collected 27 points on the road, both are mediocre home teams. Both have 22 ROW's.

It's the mediocrity bowl in Glendale tonight.

The similarities are even present when looking at each team's last outing Dallas went to Anaheim, and in a place everyone's been told it's impossible to win, held a Stanley Cup favorite to a 2-0 shutout. (Columbus beat Anaheim again last night, though, so...)

Phoenix had the Pittsburgh Penguins come knocking for the first time in many years, and in the process of their awe and respect went ahead and took them down 3-1, similar to what Dallas did a couple of weeks ago.

Tippett's bunch even aims to play with a similar philosophy as Ruff.

"Our forwards did an excellent job of taking it down low with speed," defenseman Derek Morris told the Arizona Republic after the win. "They were back and supporting for easy passes. Just seemed like any time you looked somewhere as a D-man, you had a couple options instead of having none."

Speed. Support from forwards. And of course, elite goaltending from one Mike Smith (or Kari Lehtonen).

Dallas has been comfortable against their old Pacific mates, going 11-2-2 against the new group. All three games before the break against them could be a good way to end this stretch.

The Stars appeared to keep the lines from Anaheim intact at practice Monday, meaning the group will look like this:

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

Daley-Goligoski
Dillon-Benn
Connauton-Gonchar

"I think against speed teams, we're going to try to use a little bit more speed," Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. "With teams that grind it out a little bit more, we can use Romer. The thought is to try not to let him sit out for too long a stretch."

So if Ruff agrees that Phoenix has aims similar to his group, Connauton could stay. Against a bigger San Jose team tomorrow night we'll expect Aaron Rome.

Ruff hinted that Kari Lehtonen could play both nights of the back-to-back set, but had to like what Dan Ellis did in Anaheim, so we'll see how it goes tonight.

Dallas has many of their fathers on the trip- Which has included a Super Bowl watch party and a trip to a "dude ranch."

The Coyotes have the consistency problems Dallas does as well. They beat the Kings and Penguins lately, but are not above throwing out a stinker (a 3-2 loss to Buffalo in between). Their lineup will look something like this, featuring an old friend or two, and noted Star-killer Radim Vrbata...

Doan-Hanzal-Vrbata
Korpikoski-Vermette-Boedker
Klinkhammer-Ribeiro-Moss
Bissonnette-Halpern-Chipchura

OEL-Michalek
Morris-Yandle
Schlemko-Murphy

Smith

Ribeiro, now 33 years-old, scored his 200th NHL goal against the Penguins over the weekend. He's recorded 39 points on the year in playing all 55 games, but has recorded a -1 rating. Still, among all skaters on the team with at least 40 games played he has their best Corsi/possession numbers, and linemate Klinkhammer is also one of their best possession players right there with him, so that's a pretty salty "third line," as Dallas may find out this evening.

Former Dallas Star Jeff Halpern, however, is at the other end of the spectrum where possession goes.

Phoenix has a nice balance on offense with six players over 30 points and six in double digit goals, paced by center Antoine Vermette with 20. 22 different players have scored for the Coyotes this season.

The puck drops tonight at 8:00pm CST on Fox Sports Southwest.

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