The Avalanche have been a very tough nut for the Stars to crack this season. In two meetings, the Avalanche have thoroughly beaten the Stars, both at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Dallas has put 67 shots on the Colorado net this year and have one goal to show for it. Meanwhile, they gave up 4 with Auld in net, so they tried Turco and gave up 4 again. The Stars hope the switch to home ice can swing what has so far been a horrible matchup in their favor. Dallas is 12-2-2 in their last 16 home games.
While the exciting come from behind win against Calgary may have washed the bad taste from the last Colorado game from our mouths, it's hard to forget just how dominant the Avalanche win was on Sunday. They scored two power play goals, a short handed goal, and at even strength. They kept the Stars to the exterior of the ice and bottled the Richards line. Their goaltender Anderson earned what the Denver Post called a "rocking chair" shutout. Dallas must get more meaningful, dangerous pucks to the net, and that means winning some puck battles against a very young and speedy Avalanche team.
Follow the jump for more on tonight's game, the starting goaltender and a Jere Lehtinen update...
Despite some pretty rash criticism going around the net the last couple of days regarding Mark Fistric's mishap with his combatants helmet, he was not suspended and will be available tonight against Colorado. The league's rare fit of reasonable judgment in this case has allowed the focus of the Stars fans and media to boomerang right back to the goaltender position.
Every Friday morning, Daryl Razor Reaugh is on Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket with the Musers, and every Friday morning he says the same thing: They need their goaltender(s) to lead them. He says they need a guy to step up and win them a game they shouldn't, and maybe that can spur them to go on "a run" of sorts. Alex Auld will once against start in net. Can he be that guy? Mike Heika asks that question today over at the Morning News. I don't think Razor is saying that the goaltender position is the reason why they can't win on the road, but that it's the position that can lead them out of it by giving them time to find their confidence.
Jere Lehtinen skated yesterday and is a possibility for tonight's game. With him, expect the lines to look something like this:
Neal - Richards - Eriksson
Morrow - Modano - Lehtinen
Ott - Benn - Brunnstrom
Sutherby - Peterson - Barch
But you never know with Crawford (or any coach in this league) Personally, I liked what I saw from the Morrow/Modano/Benn combination the other night; But then what do you do with Lehtinen?
Mike Ribeiro is expected to skate with the team this morning. He says he hope to join the Stars on their three game road trip in February directly preceding the Olympics. The Stars must win games like this one tonight to make his return all the more meaningful.
The Avalanche played at home last night, wrapping up their season series with division rival Minnesota and losing 1-0 in the process. They had been averaging 3.67 goals in their previous six games before getting shutout by the Wild. How do you finish up a season series with a division team before January is over?
Well, if there were a team to stop the Avalanche's winning streak it was the Wild who take the season series 5-1. I truly hate games against the Wild. Usually they are low scoring affairs that the Avs eventually lose thanks to a timely goal by the Wild. Not much to say about this game. Both Josh Harding and Craig Anderson were very good and made some great saves. Martin Havlat scored the only goal late the third off a lucky bounce and a nifty pass by Kyle Brodziak. The Avalanche had a 6 on 4 for a full two minutes but couldn't cash in on it. I'm glad the Avalanche play tomorrow because I just want to forget about this game and the Wild in general.
Needless to say, the Avalanche will be looking to rebound from last night's tough loss. So far this year, the Stars have been easy pickings with Colorado winning both matches so far by an combined score of 8-1. Both wins were at the Pepsi Center though; Dallas is much better this year at home (15-5-5).
Dallas: Jere Lehtinen is questionable. Ribeiro (throat contusion) and Tom Wandell (ACL) are out.
Colorado: Marek Svatos (chest) is questionable. Foote (ankle), Salei (back), David Jones (ACL), Milan Hejduk(knee) and Marr Hendricks (ankle) are out.