The Dallas Stars had a very friendly schedule to start the season of. With seven of their first nine games held on home ice at the American Airlines Center, it was a schedule that set the table for a good record coming out of the gate.
A three game losing streak, including the only two games the team has played on the road so far this year, put a taint on that start. However, with two wins in a row now and an overall record above .500 (5-4-0), the Stars will look to take that momentum with them as they kickoff the longest road trip of the season.
Six games in 12 nights and two weeks between home games will be a big test for this team.
If they can’t find a way to win on the road, this trip could very well bury the Stars near the bottom of the Central Division — a hole that would be difficult to dig out of even if it is early in the season. After all, most teams that are in the playoffs by (American) Thanksgiving tend to make the playoffs — and those that aren’t rarely makeup the gap enough to make it in themselves.
Facing the Detroit Red Wings to kick off this road trip is either going to set the tone or cause a myriad of questions among the Stars fanbase.
It seems like the Red Wings would be prime feasting for the Stars. After all, Detroit has won just one game this season.
They’re 27th in shots against per game (34.7 on average) and in their last game versus the Winnipeg Jets they had a 21-4 onslaught against in the middle frame — the type of period Dallas has put up in several games this year. Detroit is also 27th in shots for per game (28.0 on average). Comparably, Dallas is 7th in the league in shots for per game (33.9 on average) and 11th in shots against per game (30.0 on average).
On special teams, Dallas has been on fire with the man advantage (4th in the league at a 29.6% clip) and have greatly improved their penalty kill (9th in the league at an 84.0% kill rate). Detroit is actually decent on the PK (12th at 80.5%) and on the PP (11th at 25.0%), setting up for a decent match up in that regard. Surprisingly, Dallas ranks last in the league in times shorthanded (25 through nine games) while Detroit is in the box a lot (41 through 10 games, 4th most in the league).
If all those trends continue today, Dallas is going to destroy Detroit on the man advantage.
Because the Red Wings have only won a single game so far this year, it would be easy to overlook them as an opponent. Dallas could fall victim to a lack of effort if they think it should be an easy win and not put in a full 60-minute game like they did versus the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
That would be a big mistake, and losing to the Red Wings would not set the tone of this road trip well right off the bat. Good teams bring the same intensity to every opponent and see them all as games that should be won. Mediocre teams play to the perceived level of their competition.
Which one is Dallas going to be?
Alexander Radulov is a game-time decision tonight. The potential lineup without Radulov in the Stars fourth game in a row without the dynamic winger would look something like this:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Justin Dowling
Devin Shore - Jason Spezza - Tyler Pitlick
Mattias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Blake Comeau
Valeri Nichushkin - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Marc Methot - Miro Heiskanen
Julius Honka - Roman Polak
Big Ben Bishop will man the pipes.
Detroit Red Wings
Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Darren Helm
Andreas Athanasiou - Frans Nielsen - Thomas Vanek
Gustav Nyquist - Luke Glendening - Anthony Mantha
Justin Abdelkader - Jacob de la Rose - Martin Frk
Dennis Cholowski - Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson - Trevor Daley
Niklas Kronwall - Nick Jensen
Expect Jimmy Howard to get the start in net, as the Red Wings have started him in eight of their first 10 games this season.
How To Watch:
Puck Drop: 4 PM CDT
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: 1310 AM / 96.7 FM The Ticket
Online: theticket.com / Fox Sports Go app
Fun Fact: with a win today, the Stars (0-2 on the road so far) could get their first road win of the season before the Dallas Cowboys (0-4 on the road so far).