The Dallas Stars have suffered seven losses in a row, as you well know. What we don't know at this point is what to really say about it.
"I've never seen anything like this," Stars head coach Lindy Ruff answered when he was asked Saturday. "Frankly, I don't know how to answer."
The Stars hope to have their actions on the ice do the talking for them, and through 40 minutes Saturday night it appeared they had done exactly that. They had started Lindback, seen Tyler Seguin explode, and were up 3-1 in the third period. A singularly outstanding performance here and there can do wonders for a team.
But then they fell apart in the third period after a couple of unfortunate mistakes and we're right back here again. Perhaps a chance of scenery will do them some good as they take their first trip out west- First to face Dave Tippett tonight, then to the dreaded Staples Center Thursday for their only visit of the season.
More changes in the lineup are expected. Tune into Fox Sports Southwest PLUS tonight and join us for a game thread here on the site at 8:00pm CST.
Antoine Roussel was fined $5,376.34 (maximum under the CBA) for punching an unsuspecting opponent at the end of Saturday night's debacle with the San Jose Sharks. He will be available to play tonight. No suspension.
Valeri Nichushkin, however, will still be out. He is on injured reserve, making a roster spot for tonight's big story in John Klingberg. The 22-year old Swede is excelling through 10 games in Cedar Park with 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) but could be asked tonight to make a giant step in helping out at the NHL level as the club reaches for a right handed d-man.
He skated with Jordie Benn in practice but Alex Goligoski missed with a maintenance day. Mike Heika of the DMN is guessing Klingberg will make his NHL debut, but it's anyone's guess who sits- Jamie Oleksiak, Jordie Benn, or Kevin Connauton are thought to be candidates.
Cody Eakin might return this evening after missing Saturday's contest with an upper-body injury, but he did not practice Monday.
One would presume that Kari Lehtonen will be back in net to oppose Mike Smith at the other end.
From Stars PR:
Dallas center Jason Spezza appeared in his 700th career NHL game on Saturday night and earned an assist for his 700th career NHL point (253-447=700). Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Spezza is just the second player in NHL history to record career point. No. 700 in career game No. 700, joining Ilya Kovalchuk as the only players to have accomplished the feat. Kovalchuk and Spezza were drafted No. 1 (Atlanta) and No. 2 (Ottawa) overall, respectfully, in the 2001 NHL Draft. Spezza now shares seventh in the NHL with a team-leading 11 assists this season, while he ranks second on the Stars with 13 points (2-11=13).
Perecption is a funny thing. There was a time when this preview would have read "The Coyotes have lost six of seven and the Stars have points in five of their last six." That would have been November 1st. Now, flip everything upside down.
The stars are last in the Western Conference and the Coyotes just held the Islanders to one goal (you saw how the Stars did with that) after beating the Ducks (you saw how the Stars did with that) and have won three of their last four. Which would be nice, I think we can all agree.
Yes, after a shaky start there are some signs that Dave Tippett finally has his team doing some Dave Tippett-like things in holding opponents to just five total goals in their last three games, and only two of those were even-strength. The not-so Tippett-like part? They allowed 39, 30 and 37 shots in those three wins-So there could be some opportunity here.
They've treated their fans to four wins and three losses at home, including an overtime win over the defending champs back in October, and they've reached 40 shots at, err, newly re-christened "Gila River Arena" twice already.
Their power play was absolutely cooking on an 11-of-40 streak spanning a month of play, but has finally cooled off a little after failing to connect in three straight. Still, it's something the Stars must respect as one of the more dangerous aspects of this team. 5-on-5, on the other hand, not as much. Arizona boasts just a 0.66 5-on-5 GF/GA ratio- Better than only Buffalo and Columbus.
The AP notes in the Coyotes' last post-gamer: "Smith, who struggled at the start of the season, has stopped 152 of 162 shots in his last five games." So... That's pretty good.