Having won their last thee games by a combined score of 15-5, the Dallas Stars look to stay hot as they go out on the road to face a young Colorado team that dominated them for large stretches of play last season when the Avalanche took three of four from them.
This is the Stars 13th game and amazingly it is their very first Western Conference road game. They've had a steady diet of bottom dweller Eastern Conference teams until last night opened a lengthy stretch of play against tough Western opponents. Dallas lost both games in Denver last year by a combined score of 8-1 and will look to dramatically improve on that tonight.
The Stars scored four power play goals last night after having scored only six in their first 11 games. They moved from 24th to 12th in the NHL in PP%. The Penalty kill continues to improve as well. Dallas has killed 20 of their last 23. (87%), though their official number on the year is only 72.9%.
Dallas finished their six game home stand 3-3 but played well in five of the six games. A 1-0 loss to the Predators and a really good start in the loss to Anaheim don't show up in the standings but the team knows they've played well of late outside the three wins. Brad Richards told Fox Sports last night "The first three games We didn't capitalize on some power plays and we let teams hang in thee. We started good but we didn't have that killer instinct."
They had the killer instinct last night and they'll try to take it on the road tonight on FSN+ at 8:00pm. More after the jump...
Some of you (us?) were dismayed at the scratching of Tom Wandell and the insertion of Krys Barch into the lineup. Fear not, for Mr. Wandell is perfectly healthy and will very likely be in the lineup tonight in Colorado. Coach Crawford wants to get everyone into these games and give them incentive to continue working hard. It says a lot about Sutherby and Segal's play that they were able to stay in the game, but I don't think it's a knock on Wandell. It's a message that everyone needs to work hard to stay in the lineup.
Speaking of which, I fully expect to see Jeff Woywitka in the lineup tonight in Denver, with Mark Fistric likely sitting but as last night proves, you never know who might sit.
If last night was any indication, it will NOT be Matt Niskanen, who had one of his finest, most complete games as a Dallas Star. Keep it up, young man, and you might just get some of these people (me?) off your back.
Dallas continues to hold it's face-off head above water at 50.2% this year.
Andrew Raycroft will start in goal tonight for Dallas. His only other appearance this year was a stellar 4-0 shutout of the Buffalo Sabres one week ago at American Airlines Center.
Colorado is kind of a mess, but they can score on you. They've allowed four goals or more seven times already this season and they allow 3.50 goals per game (29th in the league).
This is in part due to the fact that their defense is badly injured. Here's the injury report from NHL.com:
Injury report -- Dallas is healthy. … Colorado was already without two of its regular defensemen, Kyle Cumiskey and Adam Foote, due to concussions -- and the Avs are now down another blueliner. Ryan Wilson missed Thursday's game with a leg injury. Goalie Craig Anderson (knee) is likely another week or two from returning.
Here's a blurb from SB Nation partner Mile High Hockey:
The Avalanche have recalled forward Kevin Porter and defensemen Colby Cohen to bolster a team that is getting chiseled down by injuries. Ryan Wilson is the newest addition to the walking wounded, as he missed Thursday's alleged game with a leg injury. The curious move here is the recall move of Kevin Porter. Officially, there's no "new" injuries at forward, but Matt Duchene, Chris Stewart and David Jones all missed practice on Friday for "maintenance"...because you definitely want to make sure your 20-something guys get plenty of rest, especially after your team lays a massive egg on Thursday. (There may have been a splash of sarcasm there).
Don't sleep on the Avs, folks. The Stars have not had to face the West on the road yet this year and the Avalanche are precisely the kind of young, speedy team that gives Dallas so much trouble. (See St. Louis, Tampa Bay).
They may allow a lot of goals, but they also score a ton. (3.25 a game)