Dallas Stars vs. Washington Capitals: Preview


Greetings, Dallas Stars fans! The struggle for playoff position continues tonight as the Stars host the Washington Capitals tonight at American Airlines Center. This will be the first meeting between the two clubs this season, as the Capitals look to get revenge for a 5-0 drubbing in April 2014 that effectively ended their previous campaign. Dallas swept the season series last year, winning 2-1 at home in October 2013 and then administering the aforementioned waxing in the late regular season in front of a sombre Washington crowd. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. CST, and the game can be seen locally on Fox Sports SouthWest.

Records and Scores

The Dallas Stars (19-17-7) currently sit 11th in the Western Conference, five points back of the final Wild Card spot. Not a bad scenario for a team that started as poorly as this one, but not great considering that the boys have been flirting with the eight spot for a full month and haven’t made up any ground. Although, they haven’t lost any ground either, after tearing through the end of 2014 with six wins in seven tries. After picking up four points in five games, Dallas will be looking to get the offense going after a hard-fought 2-1 loss against Winnipeg in which Ondrej Pavelec stopped 46 of 47 shots to seal the win for the Jets.

The Washington Capitals (24-12-8) have been on fire in 2015. Currently sitting in sixth in the Eastern Conference, they’ve gone 6-1-1 to start the new year, including a dramatic 3-2 win in the last minute against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Winter Classic. They’re beginning to silence their doubters, as accusations of poor cap management and questionable leadership have quieted as they’ve thrusted themselves into the contender conversation.


Stars Need to Find an Identity, and Stick with It

We’re a couple games past the midway point of the 2014-15 season, and we still don’t have much of an idea as to who these Dallas Stars truly are. Are they a team of feisty youngsters who can outpace their competitors? Are they equipped with savvy veterans who can find creative ways to score and rally from deficits? Do they have a reliable goaltender who can win the tough ones when the offense goes stale? This year’s edition has proven, at times, to be all three. They’ve also proven that they enjoy early holes, ill-timed penalties and allowing five regulation goals. The recent resurrection from the conference basement suggests that they’re on the right track, but coach Lindy Ruff’s consistent line shuffling proves that there’s still a long way to go.

Ruff separated top-liners Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin for the first period against Winnipeg, but brought them back together in the second and saw them account for 11 shots in goal in that frame. Expect more experimentation in tonight’s tilt.

Goalie Anders Lindback had his most impressive outing to date against the Jets, stopping 20 of 22 in a noble effort. It’s strange how a loss can be a confidence booster for a goalie, but that’s exactly what it was.

Capitals, with a Capital “C”

The Capitals kicked off 2015 as the hottest team in the NHL, going 6-0-1 before finally surrendering a regulation loss to the Nashville Predators last night. Led by captain Alexander Ovechkin, who’s 22 goals ranks fifth in the league, the Capitals have surged into command of their destiny and are solidly positioned in the East. Brooks Orpik‘s 5-year, $27.5m contract is still a puzzler for fans (nine points, zero goals through 43 games), but the play of Nicklas Backstrom (42 points), John Carlson (31 points) and Marcus Johansson (25 points) has proven the point that this club is not the same disappointment from last year.

Injury Report

For the Stars, Brett Ritchie, Trevor Daley, and Ales Hemsky are all listed as probable with undisclosed injuries. Patrick Eaves (lower body) is still a week or so from returning. Valeri Nichushkin (hip) remains out for the foreseeable future.

For the Capitals, Nate Schmidt (shoulder), Eddie Pasquale (hip), John Erskine (upper body), Aaron Volpatti (neck), and Dmitry Orlov (wrist) will all miss tonight’s action.

Projected Lineups

Dallas Stars

Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Brett Ritchie

Antoine Roussel – Tyler Seguin – Ryan Garbutt

Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky

Travis Moen – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg

Jamie Oleksiak – Trevor Daley

Jordie Benn – Jason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Washington Capitals 

Alexander Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Andre Burakovsky

Marcus Johansson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Troy Brouwer

Brooks Laich – Eric Fehr – Joel Ward

Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson

Brooks Orpik – John Carlson

Karl Azner – Matt Niskanen

Jack Hillen – Mike Green

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters


The Stars have had the Capitals’ number in the recent past, and I expect that to continue as Dallas rolls to a 4-2 win.

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