The Dallas Stars jump back onto the ice tonight as this stretch of games against playoff opponents continues. Tonight’s road contest against the Phoenix Coyotes is the fourth game in a five game stretch where the Stars are playing five straight Western Conference teams that are in the middle of the playoff hunt. As of this morning, the Stars sat in 11th but they are only four points behind the 7th place Coyotes heading into tonight’s game. After breaking their three-game losing streak with a big 3-2 overtime win at home over the Calgary Flames, the Stars will now look to find some sort of positive streak to stay in the playoff picture heading towards the NHL trade deadline.
The Stars will have to do it though without Jamie Benn this weekend. Benn is expected to miss tomorrow’s contest as well after getting cut across his upper leg by a skate on Tuesday. The medical staff used 13 stitches to apparently close Jamie up, and he was seen at the Stars’ practice yesterday on crutches. The team and coach Glen Gulutzan are hoping that he can be back by Tuesday when the team plays at Montreal. Brenden Morrow is still out as well, and Sheldon Souray is still out of action with a “foot” injury. For the Coyotes, Derek Morris and Rostislav Klesla are both questionable while David Schlemko is still out.
The puck drops on the fifth meeting between the two teams at 7:00 PM central time tonight, and since it is a Saturday contest the game will be on TXA-21 locally. The Stars won the first two meetings of the season, but since then Phoenix has won the last two. The Stars will be looking to find a way around former teammate Mike Smith, who is 6-0-0 in his last six starts with a 0.99 goals against average. With Benn and Morrow out, the team will be looking for offense wherever it can get it and expect guys like Tom Wandell and Adam Burish to receive extra ice time tonight with the team trying to juggle the lines.
- While the Stars are 4-4-1 since the break, Phoenix is an impressive 6-1-1.
- While the Coyotes have lost more games than they have won, nine of their defeats have come in extra time, meaning they are earning points even when they lose.
- Kari Lehtonen is expected to be in net again for the Stars, meaning we should see Richard Bachman tomorrow in Nashville.
- Burish has a goal in each of the Stars last two games. Something impressive to see from a fourth liner.