Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, 6:30 PM CST
Joe Louis Arena
Opponent Blog: Winging It In Motown
Dallas chased the game the entire way on Sunday, spotting the Kings a two goal lead before coming all the way back in the third, only to see a turnover in the defensive zone buried in their net late, costing them at least a point and maybe more.
"We didn't start good, that's for sure," said Gulutzan Sunday night. "We gave them a goal early and had to press from behind. We should have been ready to play from the beginning. We had a couple guys not ready to go."
The Red Wings sit on the precipice of setting a (very) little known record before this week: Consecutive home wins. They tied the NHL record of 20 Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers. Tonight they go for 21.
Their recent road record includes losses to the Oilers, Maple Leafs, Coyotes and Canadiens, but they're very likely the most dominant home team in the history of the league. They sit at 23-2-1 at Joe Louis Arena.
The 1929-30 Boston Bruins set the record of 20, and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers tied it. The Wings tied it again Sunday. It's an 82 year old record and the Dallas Stars are the only thing that stands in the way of it now.
The Stars first trip to the Joe this year was a 5-2 loss that saw the Wings out-shoot Dallas 40 to 27. The Stars afforded the Wings five power play opportunities and three third period goals to secure the two points and end Dallas' road trip on a sour note. That was home win number four, on their to twenty. Possibly more.
Dallas enters play in 11th place, 4 points behind the Phoenix Coyotes (shootout losers against Vancouver last night) for the eighth and final spot in the West with just 26 games to play.
More on each team after the jump...
The inconsistencies plaguing the Stars have not affected their home and road splits much. Dallas is 8-7-1 in their last 16 road games, proving that they're about a .500 hockey club regardless of locale. The Joe, as we discussed already, is a different animal, of course.
The lineup should remain fairly consistent from what Stars fans have come to know in the last couple of weeks. Captain Brenden Morrow continues to miss time with a back issue and there's no word on if he's getting any closer or not. Sheldon Souray will probably be out again with a foot injury after getting hit with a puck in Columbus.
Having Mark Fistric in the lineup instead has suited Glen Gulutzan just fine so far, and the fan response to his physicality has been overwhelmingly positive.
"He's been real physical and real clean," said Gulutzan. "He's real good in his d-zone and he makes guys pay the price and he'll clear the front of your net. Those are his strengths and he's done a real good job of that the last couple of games."
Lines should once again be something like...
In case you were wondering, the Stars are 6-11-1 overall on Valentines Day in their history, and 1-2-1 against the Red Wings on this most romantic of unnecessary holidays. Dallas has not won a Valentines Day game since 2001.
Kari Lehtonen, will of course, start in net. Richard Bachman faced the Wings last time in Dallas on the second night of a back to back. Andrew Raycroft faced them in their first visit to the Joe this year. Lehtonen faced them just once, at home, and allowed five goals in a loss.
The Red Wings:
The Flyers lost in Detroi on Sunday, and Scott Hartnell perhaps described the Red Wings best when he said "They tic-tac-toe it behind the net. There's not much you can do about it when they're zinging it around like that."
Or maybe it was Brad Stuart, who spoke with the Detroit Free Press, summing up the Wings best when he said "You've got to have the puck, and that starts with breaking out of your zone fast and it requires everybody to be where they are supposed to be. That makes it easy for us defensemen, if we have a quick outlet and get the forwards going. If you have the puck more often, you're going to be more successful. If you just continue to do things well, consistently, you see good results."
Detroit has a league best 78 points but are feeling the heat, surprisingly, still from the St. Louis Blues, who sit just three back at 75. At +47 they have the league's second best goal differential (behind the Bruins) and the league's best 5-on-5 GF/GA ratio at 1.51. Their offense is slacking a bit though, it ranks just fourth in the NHL at 3.07 goals per game.
Their expected lineup is something like this...
Goaltender Jimmy Howard has been sidelined with a broken finger since February 2nd. Ty Conklin took over the starting role, but only briefly. He was pulled against the Oilers on February 4th and hasn't been back since as call-up Joey MacDonald has stepped in and taken over.
MacDonald is a 32 year old career backup/AHL player who has seen sporadic action over his career with the Leafs, Islanders and Bruins to along with the Red Wings. He's three in a row for the Wings and has stopped 112 of 121 shots since being called upon ten days ago, good for a .926 save percentage. He's the guy the Wings will trust with trying to break that record, but as we all know, their prodigious puck possession usually does most of that work for a guy back there.