Dec 29, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars center Steve Ott (29) and Columbus Blue Jackets center Samuel Pahlsson (26) exchange words during the third period at the American Airlines Center. The Blue Jackets defeated the Stars 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Game Preview: Stars Return To Action Against The Columbus Blue Jackets


The Dallas Stars will be looking for answers as they return to action on the road tonight. The Stars will kick off another back-to-back scenario tonight with an early evening game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, before heading on up to Buffalo tomorrow evening. While the Stars are still in the playoff picture despite their inconsistent play, the Blue Jackets are all but officially dead. After a horrendous start and finally firing their coach before the holidays, things haven’t really improved in Columbus. While the BJ’s have won two straight after beating the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, they had dropped six straight before that. If the Stars want to be a playoff team, games like this against bottom-feeders should result in two points. The thing that is worrisome about this back-to-back? The Stars results in these situations. The team has a 4-4-1 record in the first game, but a 0-8-1 record in the second games. Picking up three or even four points over the next two nights would keep them in the race and help them gain some ground they lost earlier this week. But two more defeats and the current cries for change from the fanbase will only increase.

The Stars will reshuffle their forward lines again with Brenden Morrow still out. Tomas Vincour will reportedly move to the top line with Jamie Benn and Steve Ott, while Loui Eriksson will move down to play alongside Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder. This will reunite the regular third line but give the young Vincour a chance to make a difference while seeing time next to better linemates. While Morrow will still be out until at least Sunday, if not longer, the scratches will be Dowell, Adam Pardy fresh off his “conditioning stint” in Austin, and Mark Fistric. The Blue Jackets are still dealing with a list of injuries. Defensemen Brett LebdaJames WisniewskiNikita Nikitin, and Radek Martinek are all out of the lineup right now. Also Kristian Huselius (groin) and Mark Letestu (hand) are out.

The puck drops at 6PM central time tonight, and you can catch the game on FoxSports Southwest and 1310AM The Ticket tonight. While the Stars are 12-13-0 on the road, the Blue Jackets aren’t impressive at home with a 9-13-3 record. With the team’s current track record in back-to-backs, getting a win tonight is a must. While the Stars have historically played well against Columbus, Rick Nash has always been a thorn in the Stars’ side when the two teams play and I would expect him to show up again tonight. While the Stars have been struggling offensively, the Blue Jackets are 28th in the league in scoring 29th during 5-on-5 play. If they can play smart and actually show up with some energy tonight, they should be the better team. Should be.

  • Kari Lehtonen will get the start in net, so expect Richard Bachman to play tomorrow night.
  • The Stars are 2-1 against the CBJs this season. After winning the first two meetings, the Blue Jackets won 4-1 when the two teams met last in Dallas on December 29th.
  • Ryder picked up his team leading 19th goal on Tuesday night and could be the first Stars player to hit 20 goals this season with another tonight. In the three meetings this season, Ryder has two goals and an assist.

Tags: Adam Pardy Columbus Blue Jackets Dallas Stars James Wisniewski Jamie Benn Kari Lehtonen Kristian Huselius Loui Eriksson Michael Ryder Mike Ribeiro Minnesota Wild Rick Nash Steve Ott Tomas Vincour