Fresh off their big 3-2 shootout win in San Jose, the Dallas Stars will try to win consecutive games for only the second time this season as they travel to Jobing.com Arena to take on the Phoenix Coyotes.
Front and center in the minds of Stars fans will be Dave Tippett, coaching his first game against Dallas since being let go soon after Joe Nieuwendyk was named General Manager. Tipp spent six seasons with the Stars, coaching them to the playoffs five times, winning two division titles, and leading them to the Western Conference Finals in 2008. Words kind enough to describe Dave Tippett don't exist in the English language. We love him. We think he's a great coach. We just wish he didn't end up in the same conference as the Stars, much less the same division.
Unfortunate as that is, old friends become bitter rivals tonight for the first of six meetings between these two teams. Last season, the Coyotes took four of six meetings. Two of those were shutout victories for the Yotes. Those defensive ways have only been bolstered by the presence of Dave Tippett. Phoenix has a 2.39 GA/G average, good enough for 7th in the league. The Coyotes have dropped four of their last five, but are 5-4 at home this season.
After the jump, notes on both teams and injury updates, plus, what the heck channel is this game on?
Dallas continues a "four game trip" that started off in Minnesota a week earlier. Four days after that, the Stars came up with a rocky win in San Jose, and leave their fandom guessing as to just how they'll respond next in Phoenix.
The Coyotes may be a welcome sign for Dallas Star, Mike Ribeiro, who's had a rough time of it lately. Ribs has always been money against the Yotes, tallying 7 points against them last season in six games. That we consider his 14 points in 18 games this season to be sub standard for him is a testament to what kind of player he truly is. When the Ribeiro/Morrow express gets rolling again, the goals per game is bound to go up for this team.
Brad Richards had his eight game point steak broken against the Sharks the other night. Loui Eriksson is another Stars who likes the Coyotes (2 game winners last year) so look for Richards to get back on the score sheet in Phoenix.
This is another one of those games that will be broadcast on a Fox Sports alternate channel. Andrew's Stars Page brings you more on that...
Time Warner Cable – Channel 960 (digital cable)
DirecTV – Channel 677, Channel 677-1 HD
Dish Network – Channel 446
AT&T U-Verse – Channel 754, Channel 1754-HD
Also, FOX Sports Southwest (the main network) will replay the game in a condensed one-hour format on Saturday at 11 p.m., giving fans that don’t have access to FOX Sports Plus an opportunity to see the game.
Two main carriers do not have access to FOX Sports Plus yet – Charter Communications and Verizon FIOS.
So if you're like me, and you subscribe to the greatness that is Verizon FiOS, you're not getting the game tomorrow night. This is only scheduled to happen five or six times this season, so if tolerate it we must, tolerate it we shall. Go to your favorite restaurant/bar, and when they have <insert college football game here> on the TV, demand the Stars game instead!
Phoenix enters the game having dropped four of their last five decisions. Even so, they lead the Stars in PP%, PK% and faceoff %. Despite their recent struggles, they've maintained a better than .500 record at home this year, which suites the Stars just fine, as they continue to gather points in nearly every road game they have.
Dallas will look to use their new puck possession game plan to take advantage of any weaknesses the two teams have had previously:
In losing to the Canadiens, Phoenix surrendered three goals in the third period after being tied 1-1 after 40 minutes. "We struggled moving the puck out of our end, we struggled moving the puck through the neutral zone and we didn't generate a whole lot," Tippett said. "There were not a lot of shots and not a lot of quality scoring opportunities."
"There’s a lot of different elements to that team," Tippett said. "You’ve got Marty Turco in goal and his puck play is always a factor. The one position for them that I think is key because it helps the other positions is their three centerman - Mike Ribeiro, Brad Richards and Mike Modano. Modano’s just coming off an injury, but if those three guys get up and going they can be a very dangerous trio because what they do is make the players beside them better… They have a real good group of forwards. I would say that’s as good a group of forwards that’s in the league right now. That makes them a dangerous team."
Expect the Coyotes to be very well prepared tonight. This is definitely one that Tipp will want under his belt, and we have no reason to doubt him or his teams' ability at this point.
The Stars will be missing Jere Lehtinen and Fabian Brunnstrom for the second straight game.
[update by Brandon Bibb] They'll also be without Brian Sutherby as well. According to Mike Heika, Sutherby tweaked a groin in practice yesterday and it tightened up overnight.
As such, expect the Stars lines to look like this with Mark Fistric moving up to the forward spot vacated by Sutherby:
The Coyotes list Jovanovski, Sauer, and Michalek as all being out with "lower body injuries."