Both teams coming into today’s game have struggled to win games. The small advantage here is that Dallas should win on home ice.
The Stars have, at times, appeared as sloppy as a Bantam-level hockey team on breakouts of the defensive zone. In their last game against St. Louis, goaltender Marty Turco made terrible choices, which led to two goals being scored on him.
The good news in net for Dallas was a semi-strong showing by Tobias Stephan, who appeared to have more focus than the starter, Turco.
Dallas’ defense, at times, seems to have trouble moving bodies from around the net, while at others the defense is just plain suffocating. Bottom line for Dallas is consistency on both ends of the ice.
On the note of consistency, I need to bring up the neutral-zone play yet again. The Stars don’t seem to look when making passes, and turnovers happen way too often near the defensive blue line. For a team to compete for a Stanley Cup, these mistakes need to nipped in the butt before November.
As far as the lines go, Coach Tippett has found good balance for scoring, and when looking at the scratches and those dressed, the Stars truly have enough depth to compete for the Cup, but only if they work out the issues that plague them in games.
For Dallas to win
The Stars must shut down the Avs' top line. Outside of the top line, the Avs don’t have nearly as much depth as the Stars do. Shut down this line, and the Stars can control the tempo.
The Stars must also win the shots-on-goal category. Putting pucks on Raycroft will cause lots of rebounds and likely someone like Neal, Brunnstrom, or Morrow will drive the puck home.
Marty must keep his cool; he can not over-pursue pucks and try to be a hero. He did it in St. Louis, and he looked like an idiot. He needs to relax in the crease and rely on his defense to protect him. A little faith will go a long way for Marty.
The defense must make smart passes on the break out. Stop looking like a Pee-Wee or Bantam level team on the breakout and make clean, crisp passes to your target. This is the biggest black eye and issue on the Stars this season.
The Stars' top line needs to show up. Mike Ribeiro, thus far in the season, has been almost invisible. He needs to find his form again, because the Stars' top line right now is being outshined by the other three.
Finally, regardless of the score or the period, Dallas must control the tempo. If Dallas shows the same speed and tenacity they did against Nashville, the Stars will likely suffocate the Avalanche. If the Avs cease control, it will likely be another rout like in St. Louis.
Morrow, Ribeiro, Eriksson
Avery, Richards, Brunnstrom
Crombeen, Modano, Neal
Lundqvist, Petersen, Barch
Injuries as reported by the Dallas Morning News
Dallas: C Steve Ott (undisclosed) is questionable. RW Jere Lehtinen (groin) is doubtful. D Sergei Zubov (hip) is out.
Colorado: RW Scott Parker (concussion) is out.
Injury listing: Courtesy of Dallas Morning News Dallas Stars blog by Mike Heika
Ken Armer is a senior hockey writer and Community Leader for the NHL and Dallas Stars. You can contact him on his profile or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org