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Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars Host Detroit Red Wings (7:30 pm CST)

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Detroit Red Wings
@ Dallas Stars

Wednesday, Dec 29, 2010, 7:30 PM CST
American Airlines Center


Radio: 1310 The Ticket. Listen online @

Complete Coverage >

Fresh off a 4-2 win in Nashville last night, the Dallas Stars return home to face the Detroit Red Wings on the second half of a back to back for the second time in December. The Stars swept a back to back set in Columbus and Detroit 10 days ago and denied Chris Osgood his 400th win when Loui Eriksson completed the Stars comeback by potting the overtime winner at Joe Louis Arena. Now the Red Wings make their second visit to the AAC this season, intent upon repaying the favor.

This is game 15 of 16 in December for the Stars, their busiest month of the season. They've fared well through that gauntlet, boasting an 8-3-3 record this month heading into tonight's game, but they've lost the last two games on home ice and need the points to maintain their slim lead in the Pacific Division.

Dallas is 3-3 on the second night of back to backs this season. All six thus far had been on the road, however. The Stars have earned points in 13 of their last 14 home games.

The Stars begin the night in third place in the conference, but can tie the Wings once again with a win and claim another share of first place while Vancouver is idle following their win over Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

This was to be Mike Modano's second (and perhaps final?) trip to the American Airlines Center this year but a wrist injury keeps him on the IR at home. There is still a chance the Stars could see him in late February when they wrap up the season series in Detroit.

Continued after the jump...

The Stars:

Illness has plagued the Stars locker room this week. Nick Grossman and Tom Wandell did not make the trip to Nashville and both missed their second consecutive game with "illness". Razor called it the "Swedish flu," jokingly on the broadcast and suggested (perhaps in jest) that Loui Eriksson also had it but got over it faster. We'll have to ask around about that.

Either way, fresh (healthy) legs would be a good thing coming off a tough game in Nashville so we'll see if either of these guys takes part in morning skate and then go from there. The burden of killing penalties would be lessened by the return of Nick Grossman, though Mark Fistric filled in well in his absence, particularly in the area of physicality.

Andrew Raycroft was a bit of a surprise start in net last night, though we should get used to such things as the season unfolds. Nearly every time Marc Crawford gives "Rayzor" the call, he delivers flawlessly, as was the case last night.

This leaves Kari Lehtonen rested and ready for a pair of tests against the Western Conference's elite teams in Detroit and Vancouver in front of very full barns to closer out the week, month, and year. Seriously, if you want tickets you better get on it because I hear there are very few to be had.

Detroit has not won in Dallas since Jan 5th, 2008.

The Wings:

Mighty Detroit, or so we sometimes think, has collected 13 points in their last ten games to Dallas' 14 in their last ten. Injuries and the rigors of the busy Western Conference schedule have brought them down to earth a little bit. While they're still quite possibly the best team in the West, the gap between them and the field is not as great as once thought.

Detroit has a similar narrative to Nashville in that they're currently experiencing injuries to several key offensive cogs in their system. Pavel Datsyuk is out with a hand injury and now their leading goal scorer Dan Cleary has a broken ankle and will miss some time.

The Sporting News on Cleary...

"I didn’t know what was going on," Cleary told the Detroit Free Press when explaining his return to the ice. "Sometimes in the boot, it can stay. It was sore, but I knew after the game something was wrong."

Cleary, whose injury was confirmed by X-rays, estimated he would miss "a month at least. I don’t know the terms, but there’s a fracture in my ankle."

Cleary, who struggled for most of last season with a knee injury, scored his 16th goal in the first period. He has become an integral part of Detroit’s offense and his consistency and energy will be missed.

Having heard this on Tuesday prior to the Nashville game, Stars players and fans alike should be immune to the chorus of "we're injured" coming from opposing squads. The Predators were without most of their offense and still pummeled Raycroft with 46 shots last night. Detroit will be no different, and they're eager to prove their injuries won't slow them down.

While the Stars played in Nashville, the Wings waited in Dallas. Their beat writer even made a trip to "Hully and Mo's"...

Our server, Ashley, gave some good recommendations, but I knew what I wanted the minute I opened the menu: Salmon, a perennial favorite. The dish, Pacific salmon with grilled vegetables and lemon dill butter was delectable, and at $15 fit my dining budget.

The bottom line, to borrow one of Mike Babcock's favorite expressions: The food I had was delicious, my water glass was re-filled after every other sip, and we recommended the place to the shuttle driver on the way back to the hotel.

Scanning the menu, I chuckled to read one offering: The "Mo-tini," a black cherry martini concoction named after Modano. Next time I see him, I'm going to find out how many tries it took for him to make it.