Game 18 Preview: Stars look to get back on track vs Avs

Dallas Stars (11-6-0, 22 pts) @ Colorado Avalanche (8-10-1, 17 pts)

8:00 PM CT November 18, 2011

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

With the Stars in a bad slump, a trip to Colorado might be just what the doctor ordered. Dallas has lost their last three games, but it’s much more than just the losses that plague this team; it’s how they’ve played in those losses. The Stars have been outworked, outmuscled and just plain outplayed in each of their last three games. It culminated in a 6-0 buttwhipping in their Tuesday games against the Florida Panthers. With a combination of the slump and major injuries to important players, they need a major fix to get back on track.

Enter the Colorado Avalanche, a team that is in possibly the worst slump in the NHL right now. The last time these two teams played, the Stars won 7-6 in overtime in one of the craziest games you’ll ever see. It was the Avs second game, and second loss, in November and a sign of worse things to come. The Avs have played six games since that Nov. 4th matchup and won only one of them. The one game that they won was an overtime victory over the New York Islanders. They’ve lost three straight, seven of their last eight and five straight games at home.

The big problem with the Avs is their goaltending, particularly Semyon Varlamov. He’s 0-5-1 this month with a horrific 4.57 GAA and an equally appalling .831 save percentage. He’s only won a single home game this entire season (seven games). It’s unlikely, but don’t be surprised if J.S. Giguere makes the start tonight. He has the one win for the Avs this month and played well in their game last night against the Wild.

Dallas, meanwhile, is in full-blown regroup mode. They’ve lost two players for the next month (Goligoski and Burish) and will be doing some major line shuffling with Steve Ott returning. Coach Gulutzan is breaking up the Batman and Robin pairing of Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson (a mistake in my opinion). Eriksson now moves to line up with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro, two guys that have basically been MIA this entire season.

I would have prefered to see Morrow and Ribs split in an attempt to get them going, but it looks like those two are joined at the hip. Benn stays where he is and will be lined with Michael Ryder and the returning Ott. Benn and Eriksson worked so well together so it’s disappointing that they would be split up. Hopefully this move workes out or it will not last long.

Kari Lehtonen (who’s in his own slump) is in net tonight for Dallas.

Dallas will be without Alex Goligoski (broken thumb) and Adam Burish (broken hand).

Colorado will be without Peter Mueller (concussion).


  • The Stars have been outscored 14-3 during their three game losing streak.
  • The one good thing for the Stars lately is their penalty kill. They’ve been 8 for 8 in their last two games.
  • The Avs are 2-6-0 at home this season and this game starts an eight (8!!) game home stand tonight.
  • The Stars are 5-4-0 on the road this season and have lost their last two.
  • Colorado has the 2nd best PP in the league, but that’s only because of how their they are on the road. The difference in their home-road PP splits is staggering. On the road, they’ve scored 12 PP goals and are successful 35.3% of the time, the best in the NHL. At home, they’ve scored only four PP goals and are successful 13.3% of the time, tied for 6th worst in the NHL.
  • Despite their powerful PP, the Avs have gone 0 for 10 in their last three games, the worst they’ve done since the first three games of the season.