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Gameday Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets @ Dallas Stars (7:30p CST)

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Columbus Blue Jackets (11-6-2)
@ Dallas Stars (9-5-6)

Thursday, Nov 19, 2009, 7:30 PM CST
American Airlines Center

Local Radio: KTCK 1310 The Ticket

Opponent's Blog: The Cannon

Complete Coverage >

Here we go again.

The Stars are coming off a big road win against a hot team and now must turnaround and try to replicate the performance just one night later. We've written and talked about how the Stars have fought consistency all year long and the only way for this team to buck the trend is to win two in a row. Then three. That's all.

Before we move on to talk about tonight's game against Ken Hitchcock and the Blue Jackets, here are some final words on last night's non-goal controversy.

Mike Babcock:

`` I just saw a highlight of it and I have no idea why that's not a goal. There was no whistle. You get a shot from slot . . . look I recognize the referees are in a tough spot but we have video replay in hockey for a reason. To make the right call in those circumstance. It makes no sense to me.

``I think it's a joke. It's a 2-2 game and it's a different outcome for us. Frankly, I'm not happy.''

Mike Heika suggests that Toronto called down to give the officials the chance to get the call right, but the one ice referees decided to go with the no-goal call anyways. I can't imagine that is going to go over well.

Alex Auld:

"It definitely was in, eventually. He didn’t know, he thought I had it and he said he was blowing the whistle. That’s the ref’s judgment call obviously. We caught a break there but I feel like you work for those too. Some of the stuff that’s gone the other way earlier in the year, maybe we deserved that."

The Stars overall outplayed the Red Wings and deserved the win. But there's no doubting that a 2-2 game in the third period might have gone completely different, especially with Detroit gaining momentum from the goal.

Now, onto Columbus:

The Dallas Stars:

Should be interesting to see how the Stars approach tonight's game, since it was clear they used a very specific gameplan to counter the offensive attack from Detroit last night. The Stars slowed the pace down, allowed no room in the neutral zone and took advantage of the power plays they were given. The Blue Jackets utilize a much more calculated and defensive approach to the game and will present a good test for the Stars as they face two different styles on consecutive nights.

No word yet on Fabian Brunnstrom's status, so I'm expecting the same lines as last night:

Ott - Ribeiro - Lehtinen
Neal - Richards - Eriksson
Morrow - Modano - Benn
Barch - Wandell - Petersen

Turco in net.

The only change I could see is possibly Sutherby stepping in for Barch, and possibly Woywitka in for Fistric. We'll see.

There some skepticism as to how the Stars would respond after splitting up the lines for last night's game, but overall I was pleased with the balance shown across all four lines. Ott had some good chances and finally started to show some energy again, while Morrow and Modano proved they have some great chemistry together as well. Some of the passes between those two were fun to watch (Morrow is a big fan of the touch pass).

The Columbus Blue Jackets:

The big news out of Columbus is surrounding Nikita Filitov. The rookie has decided to leave the NHL and play in the KHL, saying that his game was being hampered by coach Ken Hitchcock's coaching style. Says The Cannon:

Filatov is the same person he was yesterday. The same player with the same skills. The positive is that he has trade value. Really decent trade value. His trade value is the same as if he played here the rest of the year. For the next 2-3 years Filatov's value to this team might only be trade value. We can move him at the deadline. Move him tomorrow. Move him at the draft. The value does not diminish. Zherdev's value pretty much bottomed out and we were able to get Fedor Tyutin. Filatov's value would be far past this. If we move him at the deadline for Tomas Kaberle, who would be complaining? If we flipped him to the Islanders for a 1st round pick +, who would be complaining? His value is still the same.

So the heat on Hitch?

I can sense it, and I'm not going to defend Hitch, I'm not sure what his relationship with Filatov is, but I will not endorse him sacrificing wins for Filatov's development. No way. This is how Hitch sees it, the hardest part for Hitch is though is that he wants to WIN EVERY SHIFT. We are better off at our stage in our development to have this mentality. If we were say in the San Jose world of development, you can run Filatov out there because, hey you know we are in the playoffs. If you are in the New York Islanders world of development you can run Filatov out there because, hey lets sell some jerseys.

Key Injuries:

Columbus: G Steve Mason (back) and D Mike Commodore (illness) are questionable. LW Raffi Torres (jaw), C Samuel Pahlsson (elbow), LW Fredrik Modin (knee) and C Andrew Murray (shoulder) are out.

Dallas: LW Fabian Brunnstrom (shoulder) and C Brian Sutherby (groin) are doubtful.