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Game Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Dallas Stars (7:30pm CST)

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Leafs? Leaves?... Leafs?

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

"We're only a couple of points out of sixth place in our division. So we still have work to do."

Tyler Seguin is becoming a wise man.

The 6th place team in each of hockey's six divisions has 13, 13, 11 and 17 points as of Monday afternoon. Can you spot the Central in the list? That Central Division is coming, too - Winnipeg Jets here on Thursday. Minnesota Wild here on Saturday.

Before those battles can be fought, however, the Stars must re-rack and entertain the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening. Motivation to be inhospitable hosts should not be hard to come by.

Eight days ago the Stars put 44 pucks on James Reimer's net and 76 toward it altogether in a dominating display of puck possession, but left with a 4-1 loss for their trouble - not to mention the Leafs swept the season series last year.

Nine days before that the Stars returned home, as they do tonight, from a four-game road swing and promptly got walloped by an Eastern Conference foe in the form of the Florida Panthers 6-2.

It's the dreaded first home game after a long road-swing tonight on Fox Sports Southwest PLUS at 7:30pm.

The Stars:

Dallas ran these lines at practice Monday-

Benn-Seguin-Sharp
Janmark-Eakin-Spezza
Hemsky-Fiddler-Sceviour
Roussel-Faksa-Nichushkin
Moen-Shore-Eaves

That's right - Travis Moen and Patrick Eaves are participants in practice, though neither is likely to play this evening. That will force the Stars into some pretty difficult decisions in the near future, however, as Radek Faksa has done nothing short of shine.

Then there was this note:

So we'll keep an eye on that as it seems there's a chance Devin Shore could get one more look, but also out there is a lingering ding Patrick Sharp suffered against Carolina, combined with his collision with Jason Spezza Sunday afternoon, though he practiced Monday.

It's been well publicized that Dallas has used over 25 different forward configurations already this season - and so far it has not been detrimental to the final product.

Having the league's leading scorer, leading goal-scorer, and leading defensive scorer is a powerful deodorant.

It doesn't appear as though a shake-up on defense is forthcoming after these pairs ran on Monday:

Goligoski-Klingberg
Oduya-Demers
Jokipakka-Benn
Nemeth-Oleksiak

As always this season, stay tuned after morning skate to learn who will take their turn in the Stars' net. Getting into that prediction business has not shown a strong ROI to-date.

The Leafs:

Look at Toronto's last 10 games.

That outing against the Stars last week stands like a lone island in a cruel sea - a refuge rising singularly as tumult and despair beat against it from all sides.

Which is to say they've lost nine of ten, and the lone win was that game against Dallas in which they got out-shot 44-26.

Or, more positively, the Maple Leafs have earned points in three of their last four with a 1-1-2 record. So you could say things are improving - though as they were the only team looking for a second victory when last the two met, so are they now the only team in the league still searching for its third.

Their lineup, as you may recall:

Riemsdyk-Kadri-Komarov
Matthias-Bozak-Parenteau
Winnik-Spaling-Lupul
Grabner-Froese-Boyes

Gardiner-Phaneuf
Hunwick-Rielly
Harrington-Polak

James Reimer
Antoine Bibeau

From Stars PR:

"SURRENDER HER PRONTO, OR WE'LL LEVEL TORONTO"
The Dallas Stars return to American Airlines Center and open up a three-game homestand after winning three of their four games (3-1-0) last week on the team's Eastern Conference road swing. Dallas matches up against the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second and final time during the 2015-16 campaign. Toronto won the first meeting of the season, 4-1, at Air Canada Centre on Nov. 2. Stars captain Jamie Benn (1-0=1) provided the only goal of the game for the Stars, with forwards Patrick Sharp and Tyler Seguin registering assists. The Stars have earned points in four of their last five games at home against the Maple Leafs and have won three of their last five meetings (3-1-1).

TYLER SEGUIN'S HOUSE OF PAYNE
Stars forward Tyler Seguin was named the NHL's Second Star for the week ending Nov. 8, recording seven points (4-3=7) during that span, including a hat trick (3-0=3) against the Boston Bruins on Nov. 3. Seguin registered a two-point outing (1-1=2) on Sunday afternoon against the Red Wings and has now tallied points in eight consecutive games (5-8=13). Seguin's eight-game point streak is tied for the second-longest active streak in the NHL and marks his longest point streak since he recorded points in 11 straight games from March 6 - 28, 2014 (7-11=18). The Brampton, Ont. native has 23 points (9-14=23) this season, currently leading the NHL in assists (14) and sharing the lead in points (23). In his 10 contests against Eastern Conference opponents this season, Seguin has recorded 17 points (8-9=17) and has tallied multi-point games in six of those ten games. Over the course of his NHL career, Seguin has played in 21 games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and has tallied 19 points (10-9=19).