What: Dallas Stars at Detroit Red Wings
When: 7:30 p.m.. tonight
Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI
TV: Fox Sports Detroit
Records: The Red Wings are 1-1-0; the Stars are 1-1-0
Coaches: Mike Babcock is 422-217-19-83 in his tenth season as a head coach, and 353-155-68 in his eighth season with the Red Wings. Glen Gulutzan is 43-35-5 in his second year as a head coach, all with the Stars.
Season series: The Red Wings went 4-0 against the Stars last season.
Red Wings update: The Wings are fresh off of their first win of the year, picking up a 4-3 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last night. They are still dealing with plenty of injuries and illnesses, as forwards Todd Bertuzzi (flu), Mikael Samuelsson (groin), Jan Mursak (collarbone), Darren Helm (back), defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder), Jakub Kindl (groin), Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (groin) will not play tonight. Samuelsson and Colaiacovo were the latest to go down with injuries, which resulted in forward Gustav Nyquist being recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins, and free agent defenseman Kent Huskins being signed to a one-year deal today.
Stars update: The Stars opened the year with a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes last Saturday, getting goals from 40-year old wingers Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney (insert Mike Gundy reference here). They then followed it up with a 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Jagr and Whitney were both signed in the offseason. The team shipped center/enforcer Steve Ott to Buffalo in exchange for center Derek Roy, and sent center Mike Ribeiro to Washington for center Cody Eakin. The big news around the Stars camp is the fact that RFA center Jamie Benn has yet to sign a contract with the team.
PLAYER GROUP BREAKDOWN
Centers: Roy is very undersized for a center (5-9, 184), but don't let his size fool you, as he has won 68% of faceoffs. He has a tall order going against Pavel Datsyuk though. Vernon Fiddler is not much bigger (5-11, 197), but again, don't be fooled. His matchup with Valtteri Filppula could be a good one. It is worth noting that Filppula tallied seven points (1 goal, 6 assists) against the Stars last season. The Stars are not very big down the middle in general.
Edge: Red Wings
Wingers: Jagr and Whitney have found the fountain of youth this season. The Stars also have Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder, who scored 26 and 35 goals respectfully last season. Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner looked much better in the last game, so look for them to continue to play strong. Nyquist recorded an assist against the Stars last season in one game, and Johan Franzen notched two goals in four games. There will be a little bit of a family feud on the ice as Reilly Smith, (Brendan Smith's younger brother) will be on the Stars' third line.
Defensemen: Both bluelines have a mix veterans and newcomers. Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas are a solid defensive pair. With Ericsson still out, Brendan Smith will play with Niklas Kronwall. Look for them to deliver some hits. Jordie Benn (Jamie's brother) was very good in the AHL. The newly acquired Huskins tallied an assist against the Stars last season in two games. He will be paired with Lashoff.
Goaltending: Kari Lehtonen will start for Dallas tonight. The big Finn (6-4, 217) did not perform well in two starts against the Wings, going 0-2 with a 4.05 GAA and a .882 save percentage. Jimmy Howard went 2-0 in both of his starts against the Stars last season, posting a 3.00 GAA and a .893 save percentage.
Edge: Slightly to Red Wings
Prediction: This isn't the same Dallas team that was a two-way dump and chase trap team under Ken Hitchcock, Dave Tippett, and Marc Crawford, but they are still a solid team. However, the absence of Benn will hurt the Stars on offense. Despite coming off of a hard fought win against the Jackets, look for the Red Wings to squeak one out in their home opener.
Make it: Red Wings 3, Stars 2.
Season prediction record: 2-0-0
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