Struggles? The Dallas Stars have had a few.
They’ve struggled to string together wins and get on a positive roll. They’ve struggled with consistency, which has prevented said roll. And they’ve struggled with injuries, the primary factor in the Stars’ inconsistency.
The Detroit Red Wings, who visit Dallas Thursday, can relate. The most-injured team in the NHL this season, Detroit currently sits six points out of the nearest playoff spot. With a record of 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, the aging and beat-up Red Wings are likely to see their streak of 25 consecutive playoff seasons come to an end this spring.
Regardless of their circumstances, the Wings are still a thorn in the Stars’ collective side: The Stars haven’t beaten the Red Wings in Dallas since Oct. 14, 2010. To earn two points Thursday, the home team must quickly shake off jet lag after flying back from California yesterday.
Though they just passed the midpoint of the season, the Stars enter tonight’s contest with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread. They’re only two points out of the second Wild Card spot, but three teams stand between the Stars and the final playoff position.
The Red Wings are by no means an “easy” opponent, but they’re the easiest one Dallas will face at home over the next couple of weeks, as the next three games at the AAC are against the Minnesota Wild (twice) and the Washington Capitals. The Stars need to pick up points whenever and wherever they can, and they desperately need two points tonight.
Detroit Red Wings at Dallas Stars
American Airlines Center – 7:30 pm CST
Broadcast channels – FS-SW+, FS-D
2016-17 Season Series: November 29 – Red Wings 3, Stars 1
Detroit Red Wings: 17-18-6 – 40 Points
Road Record: 10-8-3
Hot Players: Thomas Vanek, Frans Nielsen, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou
Key Injuries: Jimmy Howard, Niklas Kronwall, Brendan Smith, Darren Helm, Joe Vitale and Johan Franzen
Gustav Nyquist – Henrik Zetterberg – Anthony Mantha
Andreas Athanasiou – Frans Nielsen – Thomas Vanek
Justin Abdelkader – Dylan Larkin – Tomas Tatar
Drew Miller – Riley Sheahan – Luke Glendening
Jonathan Ericsson – Alexey Marchenko
Danny DeKeyser – Mike Green
Xavier Ouellet – Ryan Sproul
Dallas Stars: 17-17-8 – 42 Points
Home Record: 11-6-4
Hot Players: Tyler Seguin, Radek Faksa and John Klingberg
Key Injuries: Jamie Oleksiak, Mattias Janmark and Ales Hemsky
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Tyler Seguin
Jiri Hudler – Radek Faksa – Patrick Sharp
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Patrick Eaves
Lauri Korpikoski – Devin Shore – Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell – John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis – Stephen Johns
Johnny Oduya – Jordie Benn
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] After missing the last four games with a foot injury sustained on New Year’s Eve, Stars captain Jamie Benn will play against Detroit tonight. Though Dallas coach Lindy Ruff didn’t put his club through line rushes at Thursday’s morning skate, odds are Benn will be reunited with Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin on the top line.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Stars’ other Jamie, Jamie Oleksiak, won’t dress tonight and is likely out “at least a couple weeks” with a hand injury, per Ruff. The defenseman was hurt Tuesday night in the Stars’ 2-0 loss to Anaheim. The injury couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time, as the “Big Rig” had played in seven of Dallas’ last eight games and seemed at last on the verge of nailing down a spot in the top six.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] To put the Red Wings’ 25-season playoff streak into perspective, consider this: The last time Detroit missed the postseason (1989-90), 13 current Stars hadn’t been born and Dallas GM Jim Nill was a player for the Wings.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] Perspective, Part 2: Missing the 1990 playoffs earned Detroit the third pick in the NHL entry draft that summer. They chose Keith Primeau, allowing a mullet-coiffed Jaromir Jagr to fall to Pittsburgh with the fifth pick. Selecting eighth, the Minnesota North Stars took an over-sized defenseman named Derian Hatcher. As longtime Stars fans will recall, that pick worked out pretty well.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap] Though the Stars’ penalty kill has struggled mightily of late, the Red Wings’ road power play has them beat: This season, Detroit is scoring with the man-advantage just 3.3 percent of the time away from Joe Louis Arena. How bad is that? Vancouver is next-worst, at 10 percent.
Matt blogged about all things hockey at On Goal Analysis/The OGA Blogs from 2008-2014 and has written several travel articles for The Dallas Morning News. He began covering the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers for The Hockey Writers in August 2015. Matt is also writing a biography of “Tex” Rickard, the Texas cowboy who founded the New York Rangers and the Madison Square Garden Corporation.