The Dallas Stars will attempt to keep the holiday cheer up at the American Airlines Center tonight, as the Stars will be looking for a sweep of their three game homestand this week. Tonight the Stars will get a rare visit from the Toronto Maple Leafs, another team that came out of the gate surprising everyone but has since battled through issues. But the Leafs are coming off two seven-goal games in their last three after losing five out of six. Part of the Leafs recent rollercoaster ride? A lot of injuries including starting netminder James Reimer being out of the lineup. Tonight the Stars will see Jonas Gustavsson in net against Kari Lehtonen, and Jonas has either been great or just horrible recently.
The Stars will remain without Brenden Morrow for the next three games starting tonight as the Stars and coaching staff have decided to sit him and let him reach close to 100% instead of playing banged up. Morrow’s back is bothering him along with a few minor issues and he will get an injection for his back and rest for about a week it appears. He probably won’t be back until Thursday’s game against Ottawa or next Saturday’s contest against the Islanders as the will miss at least the next three games. Dallas is still without Alex Goligoski and Adam Burish for a few more weeks, so the next few games could be interesting. The Stars will try to keep winning, but will do it without their captain (who has been noticeably off this season) and without two of their other strong players. Dallas will need everyone else to step up, much like Jamie Benn, Steve Ott, and others did in their 3-2 overtime win Wednesday. Along with Reimer, the Leafs will be without Mike Komisarek (upper body), Mikhail Grabovski (knee), Mike Brown (upper body), Matthew Lombardi (Shoulder), and Colby Armstrong (ankle). I told you they had injuries.
Don’t be surprised to see a high scoring affair tonight in the only meeting between these two teams this season. The Leafs average over three goals a game, but also give up over three a game. Phil Kessel leads the way with a league high 16 goals and 30 points, and the Stars will have to constantly be aware of him. The Leafs also boast the third best powerplay in the league, so staying out of the box needs to be a focus tonight. While the Stars PK unit has been better this season, it has shown some cracks at times and taking five or more penalties again tonight could kill the Stars chances. Dallas has flipped the script this week though at home and they’ve outshot their opponents by wide margins in the last two games. If the Stars can keep attacking, play smart and stay out of the box, and maybe break through on their own powerplay, then I think we could see the Stars win another exciting game.
The puck drops at 7:30PM (CST) at the AAC and like normal will be on Fox Sports SW and 1310AM The Ticket. For those heading to the game tonight, don’t forget that the Stanley Cup will be in the building and available for pictures tonight in the AAC concourse. And make sure you follow myself (Austin) at Twitter.com/BlackoutDallas, and follow BlackoutDallas contributors Melissa at Twitter.com/DalStarsWriter and Andrew Monrreal at Twitter.com/_Ammon. For Maple Leafs news, chatter, and opinions, head on over to EditorInLeaf.com