The Dallas Stars ended a seven game point streak (5-0-2) Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens in a 5-4 loss that featured fights, penalty shots, two-goal comebacks and late game heroics. Just not in favor of the home side.
With Phoenix's loss to Columbus that same night the performance was not as detrimental to the Stars' playoff chances as it might have been, but it was still an opportunity lost. The Stars will look to wrap what is currently a 2-1-1 home stand with another tally in the first column today.
So what went wrong against Montreal? Lindy Ruff explained Friday after practice-
"Mistakes of aggression," he opined. "Coverage situations where we missed coverage. So when you break it down some of it was due to how we went at it in the offensive zone and some of it was just defensive zone coverage."
"We gambled on the offensive side and we paid a big price for it."
Detroit badly out-played Toronto in the snow Wednesday, showcasing their high-end skill while being frustrated by Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 41 of their 43 shots in the shootout loss. They've been off since then and will be hungry while still looking to right their ship.
Puck drop will be just after 7:00pm CST on Fox Sports Southwest.
Illness. Illness, illness, illness. Shawn Horcoff and Ray Whitney both missed Thursday's contest, and both returned to practice on Friday.
The problem was, as Colton Sceviour made his way back to Cedar Park, they then found out that Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley are the latest afflicted with it.
"We don't know what tomorrow will bring," Ruff said of the uncertainty surrounding his roster. "Seguin is worse than Peverley. Peverley's just starting to feel it. We'll see where they are tomorrow."
Whitney will be back, but the head coach didn't sound so sure about Horcoff.
"There's not a darn thing you can do about it," he continued. "You've got to get through it. It's something that happens. It's something that a lot of teams deal with and...we'll get through it."
The ambiguity of the Stars' starting lineup Saturday evening makes projecting lines a little tough to do.
Sergei Gonchar skated without a red practice jersey and is as close as can be to a return without remaining questionable. Ruff expressed dismay at his having attended just two full practices, stating he could be ready for duty tonight, but would more likely be in to start the New York road trip.
From Stars PR: "Stars captain JAMIE BENN extended his point streak to five games (4-3=7) on Thursday, and now has five goals and eight points (5-3=8) over his last seven games. BENN currently ranks second on the team with 36 points (14-22=36) and shares 12th among Western Conference skaters with 22 helpers this season. The captain comes into Saturday's tilt with 11 points (3-8=11) in 13 career matchups against the Red Wings, six of which (2-4=6) have come at American Airlines Center.
HBO cameras have shone everyone the struggles of the Detroit Red Wings, and there's a feeling that they're already not the team we knew when these two foes shared a conference. They're mired in a 4-7-3 stretch after starting 14-7-7.
Since Halloween, they've beaten a team with a points percentage equal-to or greater-than Dallas' exactly...once. The Bruins on November 27th.
On the other hand, they have the chance to do the only thing they do well right now: Win on the road. At 12-4-3 only two teams in the NHL (Chicago, Anaheim) have more road victories than do Detroit. Their regulation loss to the Predators earlier in the week broke a nine-game, five-week point streak on the road.
Patrick Eaves had a national television audience or two witness the dislocation of his jaw by Lupul in the Winter Classic Wednesday afternoon, but skated yesterday and should be good to go for this one.
Danny DeKeyser is day-to-day with a lower body injury on defense, belived to be groin related. His absence could open the door for rookie Alexey Marchenko, who would become the Wings' 5th rookie to make his NHL debut this year.
Their forward lineup, or something like it:
USA Olympic netminder Jimmy Howard should start in the Detroit net.