Taking down the Bruins in Boston? That's a good one. Slaying the Wings at The Joe in Jim Nill's first trip back to Detroit? No small feat.
Beating the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks and their legion of red in the stands? That would put the ultimate exclamation point on what's been a fun week of hockey for the Dallas Stars, but it's a tall, tall task.
When last the Blackhawks visited Dallas on a Saturday night the results were catastrophic. Kari Lehtonen allowed the first four goals through half the game and Richard Bachman allowed four more in the second en route to an 8-1 drubbing. Chicago also took a 3-2 overtime decision at the AAC in January.
Chicago has been dominant in Dallas in recent seasons, even in the very occasional defeat. The last time the Stars out-shot the Blackhawks at home was in March of 2011. This will be the club's first meeting as renewed division rivals in the revamped Central.
The Blackhawks will visit the AAC three times in the next month- Tomorrow, November 29th and December 10th. Dallas must find a way to drag a point or two out of those meetings.
Puck drop tonight is at about 7:08pm CST on Fox Sports Southwest PLUS.
Health remains on the Dallas Stars' side this season and only performance has dictated moves. Peverley and Nichushkin switching mid-game in Detroit, for example, while the team struggled to create quality chances. It's expected things will go back to the starting line in this one tonight and that lines will go back to looking like this:
That's right. I've decided to start listing Kari Lehtonen at the top rather than at the bottom.
Dallas sent Kevin Connauton to Texas on a conditioning assignment yesterday so he could see a few games of action and stay ready. Relative health in the season's first month has necessitated such actions. Aaron Rome returns to Dallas in the mean time having already cleared waivers several weeks ago.
From Stars PR: "Dallas enters Saturday's contest against the 'Hawks having played in seven consecutive one-goal games (4-1-2 record) and in 10 overall this season (6-2-2 record). Only the Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks have earned more one-goal victories than the Stars."
Stanley Cup Champions and 10-2-4. Chicago comes to the American Airlines Center with things as good as they ever were having four of their last five and have earned points in 12 of their last 13 outings.
They get to four or five goals with regularity and have scored five in each of their last three road games (at Winnipeg, at Minnesota, no easy task, and at Tampa Bay). On the flip side they can lock it down, but have seen Ottawa, Minnesota and Tampa hang five or more on them in the last two weeks.
They score the third most goals in the league at 3.38 per game, take the second most shots at 34.2 and allow the 7th fewest at 27.1. They are the top team in the league in both Corsi and Fenwick measurements of puck possession (shots attempted versus shot attempts against).
The Stars' challenge: Find an answer to tremendous depth. Kane and Toews lead the team in scoring, and they do it from two different lines. The Stars will have to spread their matchup attentions widely and with purpose, and hope for a reignition of the Whitney-Eakin connection to keep up.
Niklas Hjalmarsson left Chicago's practice early Friday with an upper-body injury but is still expected to play tonight. Michal Handzus is expected to remain out with an upper-body injury.
More from Defending Big D:
- Dallas Stars Recall Aaron Rome, Send Kevin Connauton to AHL on Conditioning Assignment
- Dallas Stars Fans: Be Victory-Green-Clad And Loud On Home Ice Tomorrow Night
- Thoughts on Three-Game Road Trip: Dallas Stars Learning How to Win
- Dallas Stars Daily Links: Jamie Benn Is a Golden God
- Video: Jamie Benn Goes Coast-to-Coast on Detroit Red Wings, Jimmy Howard