Saturday, November 12th, 2011, 6:00 PM CST
Joe Louis Arena
Opponent Blog: Winging It In Motown
What started out as a promising, fun road trip for the Dallas Stars with two dominant victories over the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals turned ugly last night in Pittsburgh with the Stars losing two defensemen during the game, one for possibly quite a while in Alex Goligoski, and a 3-1 result in favor of the hosts.
They come into Detroit now on short rest, with a short bench, and a pretty thorough beating on their minds as the Penguins dominated possession of the puck for nearly all 60 minutes and denied the Stars any sustained pressure or momentum of any kind. As they say in baseball, there's always tomorrow, and that's the attitude the Stars must embrace with a back-to-back situation as they try to end the trip on a positive note and add to an already guaranteed .500 points percentage on the four game swing.
The Stars are 0-2-0 on the second nights of back to backs this season and went 6-6-0 in that situation last year. They won both meetings at the Joe with the Red Wings and four of their last five there altogether.
Detroit, meanwhile, is also playing on the second night of a back to back, but they do so on the rare "home and home" set, having slept soundly in their own beds last night with no pesky plane ride. They dominated the Oilers 3-0 at the last night, controlling play and by some accounts the scoring chances by a staggering margin of something like 26-8. They've won three in a row.
More on each team after the jump...
As of this writing late on Friday night it is assumed by everyone familiar with the situation that Andrew Raycroft will get his third start of the year Saturday night against the Red Wings.
Raycroft will start his third "second night of a back to back", having lost the previous two. He was stellar in a contest with the Kings at Staples Center, stopping 23 of 24 in a game that the Stars could have easily won if not for the man at the other end, Jonathan Quick. The other was a loss to the Blackhawks on opening weekend in which he was under siege for much of the night, surrendering four goals on 30 shots.
As you know by now, Alex Goligoski will miss this game with an injured hand and is already back in Dallas to get xrays and begin rehab. That leaves the Stars blue line with Mark Fistric and Adam Pardy to along with Robidas, Souray, Daley and Grossman. We'll have to wait and see how they mix and match partners. Goligoski was the guy that went with the rotating Fistric and Pardy.
Update: We learned earlier today (after I wrote this) that Goligoski has a broken thumb and will miss at least a month. Larsen has been recalled from the Texas Stars and could play tonight. They need the right handed shot.
Special teams will be more problematic with Goligoski leaving gaps on both the power play and the penalty kill.
The forward group will see Jake Dowell come in and either Wandell, Petersen or Barch sit.
Dallas must stay out of the box tonight, as they've demonstrated over the course of the last three games that they cannot keep a clean sheet on the PK, and are continually putting themselves at a disadvantage where number of power plays is concerned.
More important still will be a solid start and a good skating game, establishing the game they want to play early. Pittsburgh dictated play from the start last night and the Stars never recovered.
"We were outplayed tonight from the start of the game," said Gulutzan. "We were stale in the first ten minutes. We weren't skating, we weren't moving our feet. It took us a while to get going, I think that was the key, we just didn't come out and establish our game"
The Red Wings:
As I mentioned above, the Red Wings were dominant in a win against the Oilers last night: Another team turning heads in the early going, trying to show that they belong with the "big boys" in the Conference. The Stars received a harsh lesson from an established power in the league last night just like Edmonton. Detroit will be looking to repeat it verbatim to a captive, injured Stars audience tonight.
Jimmy Howard shut out the Oilers last night and as of late Friday there's no indication of who the Wings will start in net Saturday. They have two days off following this game. Ty Conklin could get the nod, starting his fourth game of the year.
Conklin is 1-2-0 with a 3.37 GAA and a .882 save percentage. Part of that was a team-wide slump that saw the Wings lose five in a row before their recent three game streak they carry into this one.
Unlike the Stars, the Red Wings are healthy. There was some speculation about Henrik Zetterberg and Patrick Eaves before Friday night's tilt but both played, and Detroit should bring that full, big $59 million payroll of theirs into this one.
They're second in the league with 35.5 shots per game and bring an impressive 1.24 5-on-5 GF/GA ratio with them. Their power play has been sub par for their standards as of late but only a fool would under-estimate Detroit on the man advantage, and it's much better at home than it is on the road.