Gameday Preview: New York Rangers @ Dallas Stars (7:30pm CST)
The Rangers are the NHL's hottest team, winners of eight in a row. No one else has won more than two consecutive entering play Monday night.
The Dallas Stars have a little something going now- Winners of five of their last six, and six of their last eight.
The New York Rangers have considerably more.
The Stars won all three on their Western Canadian road swing against the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers? The Rangers did, too, out-scoring those teams two weeks ago by a score of 12-3.
The Stars have won six of eight? How about 12 of their last 15, including eight in a row for the Rangers.
Eight in a row. Can you imagine, Stars fans? Pretty good.
In those eight they've allowed a total of 11 goals, including seven straight games off holding the opposition to two goals or fewer. They just don't get scored on. And they're a perfect 4-0-0 on the road in the Western Conference this year.
They do it in a variety of different ways- Getting out-shot by Vancouver 30-23 but out-scoring them 5-1. Or holding the shot attempts to an unheard of low of 22 to 16 against the Oilers, or else routing the Hurricanes 34-20 en route to a 2-2 shootout win.
They're just finding ways to win right now, regardless of possession, and of course a lot of that can be traced back to Henrik Lundqvist.
Though defense and goaltending aren't their only calling card. They're rather good at putting the puck in the back on the net- 5th in the league, actually, at just a hair under 3.00 per. Rick Nash leads them, second in the NHL with 23 goals.
Joining him are Derick Brassard (27 points), Martin St. Louis (26) and Derek Stepan (22) in leading a pretty balanced attack. Like the Stars, they have 12 players in double-digit scoring.
Their lineup, or something like it:
The Stars have collected 12 of the last 16 points available to them, yet still sit 11th in the conference, little closer to the Wild and Flames than they were, and eight points out of eighth in the conference- But must continue to press forward knowing that the math will eventually turn to their favor at that pace.
They received a couple of gifts off turnovers from the St. Louis Blues in the first period of Saturday's game, and managed to nurse a tentative 4-3 lead home after a nervous third period- A signature win for them this season in a place where few leave unscathed.
They now return for three at home against the Rangers, Coyotes, and a very, very important tilt with the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night, with a chance to really start making some headway as 2015 begins.
Travis Moen returned to the lineup in favor on Travis Morin, and scoring, in St. Louis Saturday. Cameron Gaunce and Jamie Oleksiak are both currently on the Texas Stars roster, leaving just six bodies in Dallas on defense for the time being.
Kari Lehtonen should get the start as the Stars try to build momentum. They'll need to be better at home than they were when the Toronto Maple Leafs visited a week ago. The Stars went winless against the Rangers last year.
Fox Sports Southwest proper for this one at 7:30pm CST.
The Stars play host to the New York Rangers on Monday in the first of two contests scheduled between the two teams this season. Dallas has earned points in five of its last eight games against New York (4-3-1, including two of its last three games at American Airlines Center (1-1-1). Forward Cody Eakin paced the Stars with four points (1-3=4) against the Rangers last season, earning points in his last two games against them. Forward Jason Spezza tallied two points (1-1=2) in three games against New York in 2013-14, and comes into Monday's contest with points in six of his last seven against them (5-3=8).