It’s been a busy week, what with Christmas and a bunch of customers who just need to finish one last project before New Year’s. The Detroit Red Wings are coming to town, and a preview needs to be finished, so why not — just mail it in.
As of Friday, in the world of the Dallas Stars, that is not acceptable.
In a purposeful, on-the-record tirade, Stars CEO Jim Lites exposed the reason for the team’s mediocrity. Who knew that it was apparently Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
There are certainly better forums than a game preview for breaking down all of the nuances and their ramifications. Suffice it to say, the comments should add a bit of interest and intrigue to a match-up with one of the Eastern Conference’s also-rans.
Detroit comes to Dallas on a 2-6-2 streak following at 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday night. The Red Wings have played five of their last six on the road, with a 4-1 win over Carolina and two overtime losses to show for it.
This is the second meeting of the year between Dallas and Detroit. The first meeting (on October 28) saw the Stars outshoot the Red Wings 30-23, but one goal in the second and three in the third erased a goal by Gemel Smith in the first. Jonathan Bernier got the win, one of only five for him on the year.
Injuries have hurt Detroit recently as well. On the blue line, Danny DeKeyser and Mike Green both went on injured reserve in December. On the front end, Anthony Mantha and Darren Helm are out since the last time the teams played.
Defensively, the Red Wings give up a bunch of goals, and are ranked third worst in the league at 131 to date. Goaltender Jimmy Howard has not been the problem, as he sports a .921 save percentage and a 2.72 goals against average. Bernier’s numbers (.893/3.47) are significantly worse.
Offensively, Detroit tends to play their top line against the opponent’s top line. That likely means a good dose of Dylan Larkin versus Tyler Seguin, although Jim Montgomery may choose to run the Radek Faksa line out against Larkin. In all, Detroit just doesn’t do anything all that well this season, ranking borderline bottom 10 in a wide variety of categories.
Detroit Red Wing Lineup
Justin Abdelkader - Dylan Larkin - Gustav Nyquist
Tyler Bertuzzi - Frans Nielsen - Thomas Vanek
Andreas Athanasiou - Michael Rasmussen- Luke Glendening
Christoffer Ehn - Jacob de la Rose - Wade Megan
Niklas Kronwall - Nick Jensen
Jonathan Ericsson - Filip Hronek
Dennis Cholowski - Trevor Daley
As for the Dallas Stars, with a day to let Jim Lites’ comments settle, it’s impossible to predict how that translates to the ice.
We do know that Martin Hanzal and Jason Dickinson have officially been placed on injured reserve and that Gavin Bayreuther has been optioned to the Texas Stars. Connor Carrick has been added to the active roster, although a determination has yet to be made as to whether he draws in. Also, Roope Hintz has been recalled from Texas and is expected to play.
Dallas Stars Lineup
There are guesses and wild as bench-clearing fights guesses.
Jamie Benn - Roope Hintz - Alexander Radulov
Devin Shore - Tyler Seguin - Denis Gurianov
Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Blake Comeau - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Julius Honka - Taylor Fedun
Keys to the Game
Teams tend to up the energy any time they get called out. What’s telling is how they react to adversity. When the push comes from Detroit, the Stars can choose to fight back or just play the game.
Jamie Benn is a quiet leader. Playing hockey on Saturday night will likely be a relief from an unwanted spotlight and will give the captain a perfect outlet to go to beast mode.
When a story about your team’s star players grabs the headlines, it’s easy for less senior players to sit back and watch what unfolds. This is a perfect time to be distracted, and the coaches need to be ready for it.
Did you know? Connor Carrick is last on the Dallas Stars in even strength PDO, at 91 percent.