The Dallas Stars finish their early season western road-trip tonight, playing the Phoenix Coyotes later this evening out in Glendale. The Stars have an impressive four game roadtrip so far, wining in Columbus and then again in Anaheim before falling to the L.A. Kings on Saturday despite an excellent effort. The Stars (6-2) hope to get back to their winning ways tonight, facing the Coyotes (3-3-1) about two weeks after beating them at the AAC in a shootout. The Coyotes are coming into the game after winning at Anaheim 5-4 on Sunday night, a bit of an offensive explosion for a team that probably will not score a lot this season.
Kari Lehtonen will be back in the crease tonight for Dallas after getting the Kings game off, and his start to the season is obviously one that is getting a lot of recognition now. He is 6-0-0 early, with a GAA of 1.48 and a save percentage of .957. Really the only goaltender that has been better is the one who beat Andrew Raycroft in a old-school goaltender’s dual Saturday, Jonathan Quick. Expect Phoenix to have one-time Stars back-up Mike Smith in the crease again. While his early 2-2-1 record and 2.80 GAA are decent, Smith will need to improve for the Coyotes to overcome the offseason loss of Bryzgalov to Philadelphia.
The Stars and Coyotes traditionally play very tight games, especially with Dave Tippett’s system in Phoenix. ESPN Dallas pointed out that the last five contests between these two divisional rivals have all been one goal games, and it would not shock anyone if that is the case again tonight. Expect a 2-1 type of game again between these two teams. The real deciding factor tonight could be which team can strike with their powerplay. The Stars are 24th in the league in PP %, and after looking better for a few games missed quite a few chances on this roadtrip to add offense. The Coyotes are surprisingly 14th in the league right now, but have had a less success recently after a hot start to the season. Both teams will bring in PK units in the top half of the league, and with possibly very little offense given up tonight, a powerplay goal for either team could swing the contest in their favor.
The puck drops at 9pm CST on FX Sports SW and of course 1310AM The Ticket on the radio side. It is another early chance to pick up two points on a divisional opponent, and an opportunity for the Stars to finish this roadtrip off in a very successful manner before coming home for a few games. Make sure to tune in and cheer on your Stars, you don’t even have to worry about a Texas Rangers game tonight.