Sunday, November 6th, 2011, 12:30 PM CST
Opponent Blog: Canes Country
The wild ride known as the Dallas Stars 2011-2012 season continues early this afternoon as Glen Gulutzan's bunch tries to get back to their game plan after a wild 7-6 shootout against the Avs on Friday night. The Stars pulled the two points they wanted, but trailed 2-0 after one, blew a 4-2 lead, and needed a bounce in overtime to finally put down the speedy Avalanche. Their second four game road trip of the year starts now with Dallas hoping to duplicate the 3-1-0 success of the first one.
This is the Stars' first Eastern road swing of the season. Dallas went 11-5-2 against the Eastern Conference last year (2nd best in the West) and 5-1-0 against the Southeast Division including 2-0 in a home and home series with the Hurricanes. The Stars fared a little worse on the road in the East but still managed a 5-4-0 record away from the AAC.
The Hurricanes enter the game having lost five of their last seven games overall following a 5-1 defeat Friday night at the hands of the league-best Washington Capitals. Carolina averages 2.33 goals per game at home while allowing 2.67 per game, including an impressive 3-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks last Friday night. They're 3-2-1 at home.
This one will go up against the NFL directly and the Dallas Cowboys in particular locally. Nevertheless you know we will be talking Stars hockey here live so check back with us at 12:30pm.
A look at both teams heading into this one after the jump...
Dallas scored a season high seven goals on Friday against the Avalanche but it was anything but the way the want to play. Glen Gulutzan will be looking to get his team back to playing low scoring, close games on this road trip, and as Brenden Morrow put it on Friday, be a "pesky road team."
Steve Ott's hip pointer continues to keep him in the press box, or in the case of this one all the way back in Dallas. He did not make the trip and will not join the team in Washington on Tuesday. They hope he can catch up to the team on the trip in Pittsburgh on Friday night, but that remains to be seen.
In his absence lines have been constructed thusly:
Tom Wandell sat on Friday but could rotate back in on the fourth line tonight. The defense is expected to be unchanged, though Mark Fistric will be called upon at some point on this road trip.
Carolina has not been a very friendly place for Kari Lehtonen in his career. With Atlanta he had a 1-5-1 record against the Hurricanes with a 3.56 GAA. Last year he did record the Stars win in their only visit to the RBC Center, a 4-1 win on November 29th in front of a national television audience on Versus.
Lehtonen will be looking to bounce back after his first sub par outing of the season at home against the Colorado Avalanche Friday night. Or as Glen Gulutzan said, it was the first time that he had been even "average" this year.
According to NHL.com AP preview, the Stars have just been the recipients of some very fortunate breaks...
It was the latest in a run of good breaks for the Stars. In their previous game - last Saturday's 3-1 win over New Jersey - Vernon Fiddler scored the go-ahead goal in the third on a shot that banked off the skate of a Devils defenseman. Four days earlier, Dallas scored with 61 seconds left in regulation and won an eight-round shootout to beat Phoenix.
So take that for what you will.
The Carolina home PP is only 3 of 24 through six games this year, good for 12.5% and 23rd in the league in this early going. They're 20th in the league at killing penalties at home: 80% through six games. The Stars will try to take advantage of these numbers tonight while playing their simple road game.
According to our friends at Canes Country the lines for Carolina started out against Washington like this...
LaRose, Staal, Tlusty
Skinner, Ruutu, Stewart
Dwyer, Sutter, Ponikarovsky
Bowman, Brent, Boychuk
They say they were greatly changed by the third period while the Canes tried to play catchup, so we'll have to wait and see if they stay that way. With the Stars not having last change it will be interesting to see if the Ribeiro trio has to deal with the Skinner bunch while they put their top unit against the Benn line.
Bob at Canes Country doesn't even feel comfortable saying who the starting goaltender will be as of late on Saturday night...
It's going to be guess work right now how Paul Maurice sets up his lines for this one, or even who he will start in goal. The coach also hinted that he could change up the defense. Jamie McBain had a tough night, (-4) against the Caps Friday and there is some speculation that Derek Joslin might get his first start of the season.
Will Cam Ward get a break and could Brian Boucher get a chance to start at home with a fairly fresh team in front of him? Boucher has yet to win this season, but each of his starts have been on the road for the second game of a back-to-back sequence. Ward would be getting less than a 48 hour break since his busy night against the Caps, although the Canes are off until Tuesday night when they play in Jersey.