Stars Begin a Critical Series in Detroit

The Stars hope Detroit’s struggling defense can help get the offense rolling.

Eight points is all that separates the Dallas Stars and a playoff spot. Even though it is only four wins, that seems like a lot for this team right now. Perhaps that’s because they’ve won nine and lost nine in regulation. The other seven losses all came beyond 60 minutes.

The good thing is the Stars have games in hand on everyone in the division. The bad thing is that means they’re playing a lot more frequently than their counterparts. The Chicago Blackhawks are the current fourth-place team in the Central Division. They’ve also played five more games than the Stars. That means at least eight points in those five games would catch the Stars up.

Obviously, hockey isn’t quite that simple. The Stars also need to keep pace with, or even surpass Chicago in the rest of the games.

Dallas cannot concentrate on Chicago right now. The focus has to be on tonight’s opponent — the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are once again struggling and find themselves in last place in the Central Division with 22 points. This also places them near the bottom of the entire league.

If the Stars want to get something going, this is a good place to start. Detroit ranks 29th in offense at 2.27 goals per game. Their power play also comes in at 29th. As a matter of fact, their 12.2% on the power play is exactly half of the Stars’ 24.4%. Defensively, the Red Wings are giving out over three goals per game and their penalty kill is 30th at 70.9%. Dallas will need the momentum from the third period of Tuesday’s game with the Tampa Bay Lightning to carry over into tonight.

Potential Line Combinations for Dallas

Jamie Benn (14) - Joe Pavelski (16) - Alexander Radulov (47)
Jason Robertson (21) - Jason Dickinson (18) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Radek Faksa (12) - Blake Comeau (15)
Nicholas Caamano (17) - Rhett Gardner (49) - Joel Kiviranta (25)

Esa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Jamie Oleksiak (2) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Joel Hanley (44) - Andrej Sekera (5)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Anton Khudobin (35)

The Red Wings

Like I wrote above, the Red Wings are struggling in almost every statistical category there is in hockey. However, that doesn’t mean Dallas should overlook them. The Red Wings have seven players with double-digit points on the season, led by Filip Hronek and his 18 points (one goal, 17 assists).

Detroit’s goaltenders have both started the same number of games. At 15 games apiece, you would think their records would be similar, but they’re not. Jonathan Bernier has a record of 8-6-0 while Thomas Greiss is 1-11-4.

Probable Line combinations for Detroit

Robby Fabbri (14) - Dylan Larkin (71) - Anthony Mantha (39)
Filip Zadina (11) - Vladislav Namestnikov (92) - Sam Gagner (89)
Evgeny Svechnikov (37) - Michael Rasmussen (27) - Bobby Ryan (54)
Darren Helm (43) - Luke Glendening (41) - Adam Erne (73)

Danny DeKeyser (65) - Filip Hronek (17)
Marc Staal (18) - Troy Strecher (70)
Christian Djoos (44) - Patrik Nemeth (22)

Jonathan Bernier (45)
Thomas Greiss (29)

Puck drop is at 6:30 p.m. CST tonight.