Tonight the Dallas Stars are back in action after Saturday night’s injury-laced loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, and for the first time this year the Stars will be completely without Kari Lehtonen. Andrew Raycroft is going to be in net tonight and moving forward will become the #1 for a while. Now the Stars will have to find their way back to winning with another key player out. With only two wins in their last nine games, the Stars are going to have an up-hill battle. The Colorado Avalanche on the other hand have not won much either since starting off nicely. The Avs did win at home on Saturday against the Oilers, but have only four wins in fifteen games, and one of those wins was against the Stars on the November 18th (3-0 Colorado). The Avs have seen a few injuries as well (most teams will starting about this time of the season), but it looks more like the young Avalanche are settling in. While they have talent and a lot of youth, many still did not expect them to be a playoff team this season. The talent shows on their powerplay, 2nd best in the NHL, and they can score goals and showed it in the 7-6 overtime loss to Dallas earlier this season. But consistency, defense, and their depth have been issues for Colorado. It appears the they will Semyon Varlamov in the crease tonight.
As I stated earlier, Kari Lehtonen will be out tonight and for the next few weeks. His groin injury is now being labeled as a low-groin pull and the early word from Glen Gulutzan and the team is that he will miss at least three weeks. While it is positive to hear that it is not a high-groin injury (as those are the type that can take months to return from), it still leaves things in disarray. Groin injuries never have set timetables and can change with a bad tweek or workout when trying to come back. For now Raycroft will be the top guy and the Stars will have to play better in front of him. He is 0-5-0 so far this season, but he has been in the net for some of the Stars worst performances and the team has only put up five goals in those five games. Richard Bachman has been called up from the Texas Stars to serve as the back-up and the former 4th round pick could get a chance to show what he can do. While this season he is only 7-6-1, he had an amazing last season when Gulutzan coached the team down in Texas. Bachman went 28-19-5 with a 2.20 GAA and .927 save percentage. He played once for Dallas last season and stopped four out of four shots he faced when he came off the bench late in a game against Phoenix. He should see a couple of starts as the Stars do have some back-to-backs and a busier schedule in December.
Besides Lehtonen the Dallas Stars will be without Trevor Daley tonight after he was injured Saturday night as well. Not much has been said besides that it is a back issue and the Stars think he might only miss a couple of games. Vernon Fiddler left that game as well but is probable for tonight and it appears that he is going to be okay. Brenden Morrow is still out as well but the team hopes to have him back later this week. Alex Goligoski and Adam Burish are already on the IR and are now joined by Lehtonen. For the Avs, Matt Duchene and rookie Gabriel Landeskog are both probable and should play tonight. They will be without top defenseman Erik Johnson (groin) and Peter Mueller (concussion/post-concussion symptoms) tonight and probably for a while.
The game starts at 8:00PM (CST) from Denver tonight, and is the third of four meetings between the teams. The call with be on Fox Sports SW tonight and 1310 AM The Ticket tonight. The Stars did something very rare on Saturday night and maybe they can repeat it tonight: they stayed out of the penalty box. Maybe it was the complete lack of drive and energy after the injuries to Kari and Daley, but Dallas sure could use that again tonight. The Avs are superb on the PP but are horrible on their kill and are 28th in the league during even strength play. So the plan should be simple: don’t make Raycroft face 40 shots, avoid bad penalties, and just try to create and play aggressive in the offensive end. But that of course is easy to say now compared to getting out their and actually making it happen. But the Stars could use a big win to distract from the injuries and bring them back home on a high note to start December.
Topics: Andrew Raycroft, Brenden Morrow, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Erik Johnson, Gabriel Landeskog, Glen Gulutzan, Kari Lehtonen, Matt Duchene, Phoenix Coyotes, Richard Bachman, Semyon Varlamov, Texas Stars, Trevor Daley, Vernon Fiddler