Navigating the Central Division, even without the Detroit Red Wings, is turning out to be quite the challenge. If the Dallas Stars want to get to the playoffs, they'll likely need to be at least a .500 road team, and after starting 2-5-0 away from the AAC they have the chance to complete a sweep on this trip and even that mark.
"We've got that opportunity (to sweep)," Ruff told the Morning News Wednesday, "but we know this is a tough building to play in. We knew Boston was going to be a tough building, too. They gave us a push in the first 10 minutes, and our push back was even greater. It was good to see."
In Detroit the Stars face a hungry team coming off a loss that's had two days to think about it at home, as had Boston on Tuesday night.
The Wings lost 4-2 to Winnipeg when last they played and last won a home game October 15th against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They took three of four on their recent road trip, however, and all against Western Conference teams. Detroit is 4-3-1 against their former conference this season and 1-1-0 against the Central.
Faceoff is just after 6:30 on Fox Sports Southwest (proper), and don't forget the official watch party at Sherlock's Baker St. Pub & Gril off N. Central Expressway benefiting Julie Dobbs, a producer for Fox Sports recently diagnosed with cancer, and someone near and dear to the Stars and Stars media family. Taylor from DBD will be out there.
Dallas is feeling pretty good about themselves having gone 4-2-1 in their last seven games after a very bumpy start, and they should, because it's come in a pretty pronounced lack of scoring.
Discounting penalty shots and shootout winners, the Stars have scored 1, 2, 2, 1, 4 (in Buffalo) and 1 in their last six games. The two against Colorado were from distance. The Eakin goal against Montreal was from difference. They're not scoring in those tough areas. They're not using net-front presence to any effect. They've scored one power play in the 4-2-1 stretch.
So that needs to change. The Wings have been hit or miss at home defensively, giving up one or fewer three times, but also surrendering six to Ottawa, somehow, three to the Rangers and four to Phoenix.
Jamie Benn missed practice in Detroit with a maintenance day so Erik Cole took his place on the top line where Nichushkin stayed. Everything should be the same, but still he put Peverley with Horcoff and Fiddler with Garbutt.
Antoine Roussel-Vern Fiddler-Ryan Garbutt
Lane MacDermid-Shawn Horcoff-Rich Peverley
Tuesday it was Peverley with Fiddler and Cole. However it shakes out, those bottom groupings are key, particularly in these road situations. Vern Fiddler proved that in Boston. The Stars haven't been scoring and need help from unlooked to places.
Kari Lehtonen worked out off-ice in Detroit in an effort to keep him fresh, and their schedule of playing every other day right now sets up well to do that if they're careful. He should be in the pipes tonight for this one.
The Red Wings
These aren't your... older brother's Red Wings. With a 49.7% Corsi percentage (percentage for of total shots attempted) they're technically, and very slightly, getting out-possessed this season ranking 16th in the league at the time of this writing Wednesday night. Dallas is ranked 9th.
Detroit surrendered 47 shots to Winnipeg Monday night, 33 and 38 to the Coyotes, and 40 to Colorado. Phoenix is playing it much faster and looser this year, and we know about the Jets and Avalanche already. There is opportunity there for the Stars to use their speed in a similar fashion and generate a good number of chances tonight, but the start is critical.
Mlive says the Wings have been engaging in conversations not all that different from Dallas' of late...
He [Babcock] huddled with the defense at the end of practice Wednesday to talk turnovers.
"If you're tired of dashes (minuses) by your name in the second period when you're near the red line, instead of passing it rink-wide to someone that doesn't want it why not just put it back in deep and let us forecheck?'' Babcock said. "We talked quite a bit about that and sorting it out. But ideally there are less sort-outs because there are less turnovers.'' [Mlive.com]
So the Stars will get a focused, highly coached-up team here coming out of their little break.
Their lineup figures to look something like this:
More from Defending Big D:
- Dallas Stars Daily Links: Stars Winging It in Motown
- Dallas Stars Watching Party to Benefit Julie Dobbs Thursday Night
- GameCenter Live Rewind: Time for Jamie Benn to Switch Up Shootout Move?
- Texas Stars Report: Wherefore Art Thou, Goalies?
- Leadership Shines Through for Dallas Stars in 3-2 Shootout Win Over Boston