The Red Wings seven-game road trip comes to an end tonight in Dallas. It has been a crazy road-trip which included the Centennial Classic, a Cali trip and they even had the dads on the road for a part of it.
They have gone 2-2-2 while averaging 2.83 goals for and 3.17 goals against in the first six games of the trip and it doesn’t get any easier from here. The Stars haven’t been great this season and come in having lost four of their last five, but they still possess a dangerous offence and even when they return home they will meet the Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins—all three are currently playoff teams.
The Red Wings looked flat in the first period in Chicago, but played much better in the second and third. The Red Wings had a tough time staying out of the penalty box and couldn’t get a call to go their way. The Blackhawks had six power plays and Detroit had just nine second on the man advantage, but would they have scored on the power play even if they were awarded one? The Red Wings’ power play sits at 3.3 percent (2 for 60) on the road—6.7 percent worse than the second worst road PP (Vancouver).
The Red Wings won their first meeting with the Stars on the back of Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha power play goals and will be looking for a similar result tonight to jumpstart a second half surge.
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings lineup likely won’t change a lot from what they put on the ice on Tuesday, but I would expect Ryan Sproul to come out of the lineup after a tough game in Chicago. Danny DeKeyser was on the Red Wings’ top power play unit in practice on Wednesday, which moved Mike Green to the second unit. If Sproul is not featured on either unit, he probably isn’t going to play.
If Sproul doesn’t play, he will be replaced by Nick Jensen, who has been solid albeit unspectacular since being recalled. A safe defensive-defenseman might be what the Red Wings need in the lineup tonight vs. a high-powered offence.
Thomas Vanek, Anthony Manthan and Andreas Athanasiou are on fire right now. Vanek has registered nine points (5G / 4A) in his last eight games, Mantha’s point streak ended on Tuesday, but has 12 points (7G / 5A) in his last 10 and finally Athanasiou has a ridiculous three goals and three assists (six points) in three games since being a healthy scratch in Anaheim. I don’t think Blashill will be scratching him or putting him on the fourth line anytime soon.
Jamie Benn has missed the last four games with a foot injury, but will return to the lineup tonight—but of course he will. Right? It seems like whenever a team’s star is injured, they always return just in time to play the Red Wings. Benn hasn’t been as offensively dominant as in years past, but still has 34 points (10G / 24A) in 38 games.
Tyler Seguin on the other hand, continues to dominate. Seguin (great last name by the way) has 15 goals and 26 assists (41 points) in 42 games and that has resulted in Jason Spezza being red-hot recently. Spezza has just three goals, but 11 assists (14 points) in his last 15 games.
On the back-end, John Klingberg, like Jamie Benn hasn’t been as good as he’s been the last couple of seasons. Klingberg has heated up recently, scoring three goals and five assists (eight points) in his last 10 games.
There is a lot of offence to go around in Dallas and they’re finally getting healthy, with veterans Jiri Hudler and Patrick Sharp finally being at 100 percent.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Expect the goalie matchup to be Petr Mrazek vs. Antti Niemi.
Mrazek was solid in Chicago. He made a number of big saves and the goals were mostly out of his control. He ended up stopping 39 of 43 shots (.907 SV%), in what turned out to be his fifth consecutive loss. During that stretch, Mrazek has given up a combined 16 goals on 124 shots (.871 SV%). Mrazek is looking a little more comfortable and appears to be getting back to the goalie that we saw last year. Mrazek has stopped 36 of 37 shots (.973 SV%) in his career vs. the Stars.
Kari Lehtonen has been starting the majority of the Stars’ games recently, but Niemi s coming off of a really strong game in Anaheim. He stopped 36 of 38 shots vs. the Ducks and is now 8-7-4 with a 2.88 GAA and .910 SV%. He’s had struggles on the road, but has been mostly good at American Airlines Center, going 7-3-2 with a 2.15 GA and. 932 SV% this season.
THE LAST TIME…
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 8:30 p.m. ET at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit. If you can’t watch the game you can listen to it on 97.1 FM The Ticket.
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