Every team in the West, save the Edmonton Oilers, has a winning record against the Eastern Conference, 63-26-9overall. The Dallas Stars will try to stay in that club (currently 3-2-0 in inter-conference play) tonight but face a tough test in the cup-contender Boston Bruins.
(By the way, take the Oilers horrible 3-7-1 record against the East out of it and the West is .736 in inter-conference play. Absurd)
The emotional reunion tour continues tonight, of course. Ott and Dallas. Buffalo and Ruff. Erik Cole and Montreal. Sergei Gonchar and Ottawa. Now comes Tyler Seguin and Boston, and Loui Eriksson and Dallas, if he can return from his concussion. Jim Nill returns to Detroit Thursday night, Horcoff to Edmonton next Wednesday. The nostalgia is everywhere.
One thing that doesn't evoke much nostalgia, however, is the Stars' last trip to Boston. The infamous face-punching extravaganza in February of 2011 produced three fights in the game's first four seconds, several injuries to Dallas players and a demoralizing 6-3 defeat.
Trevor Daley, Kari Lethonen and Stephane Robidas are all that remain from those who skated in that one. The Stars' last victory in Boston? 1/14/2006, a shootout win (featuring Jussi Jokinen) and the goaltending stylings of Marty Turco.
So it's been a while.
The puck drops tonight at around 6:08 CST on Fox Sports Southwest PLUS.
Lines at practice yesterday were these:
In Ottawa Lindy Ruff tried to separate Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin to spread the scoring threats around, but admitted to putting them back late in the game because Seguin couldn't win a faceoff. At practice they were back together, and this spells trouble tonight.
Boston will match up, quite deliberately, to stop that top line. They'll see physicality, clogged neutral zones and a lot of Chara. So the Eakin line has to find a way, and a goal from the power play or third or fourth lines will be needed as well, or the Stars could find themselves shuffling things again late in desperation.
Kari Lehtonen will man the Dallas net.
From Stars PR: "Forward TYLER SEGUIN posted an assist on Sunday and now has points in back-to-back games (1-2=3), and has earned five points (2-3=5) over his last four contests. SEGUIN is currently tied for 14th in the NHL with a team-high 15 points (6-9=15), while his nine assists are tied for 11th in the League and share first on the Stars."
Boston comes in annoyed and hungry for improvement. Their 8-5-0 record is adequate, but as far as they're concerned their play is not, and after a 3-1 loss to the Islanders Saturday they've dropped three of four.
To quote the Boston Herald, "head coach Claude Julien said afterward that his team hasn't played a genuinely good game in two weeks."
So the Star will get a "heavy" (as Julien likes to to say) game from them in the physicality department here at home (which should be fairly bothersome for a small Stars defense) and their best punch, which may include getting a top-six forward back from injury in the form of Loui Eriksson.
"I'm feeling better," Loui told Boston media Monday. "I've been skating a couple of days now and the head is feeling better and I feel pretty good about tomorrow. I still have some testing to do. But I'm feeling much better."
He practiced with pre-concussion linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, so it certainly seems as though there's a very good possibility he'll play.
Their lineup could look something like this:
That would be Reilly Smith, who has stuck with the Bruins and even earned time on the second line with Brad Marchand struggling at times. Smith has a nice point total of seven (1G, 6A) through 13 contests, so the trade seems to have been good for game so far.
More from Defending Big D:
- Dallas Stars Daily Links: Familiar Faces, New Places
- Dallas Stars Prospect Update: Nick Paul And Cody Payne Register Gordie Howe Hat Tricks
- Projecting the Dallas Stars Movember Mustaches
- Are Tyler Seguin's Faceoff Troubles Limiting Lindy Ruff's Flexibility?
- Video: Valeri Nichushkin Scores His First NHL Goal Against Ottawa Senators