Morning, folks. Today we get ready to see a team nobody around here likes and for good reason. From a coach who once furiously screamed epithets at hockey's best coach because his team was getting their own business handed to them (not to mention a coach who once sent a certain player on a seek-and-destroy mission that remains a black mark on hockey history), to a dive-happy punk center with a rap sheet, to a "grinder" named NESN's fourth-dirtiest player in the game today, the Stars are full of people that make it easy to dislike them. Ok, yeah, they also have guys I like, such as Brenden Morrow, Loui Eriksson, and Brad Richards, but that's not as fun to think about.
Dallas comes into town losers of five straight games and holding on for dear life to their playoff chances. For a team that fought for the Western Conference lead as recently as January, their slide couldn't have come at a worse time. They'll look to right the ship against a Detroit squad that's won five of their last six games, but are coming off a loss to San Jose on Tuesday. As a reminder, the game starts at 7:30 PM and will be on NHL Network for your non-Detroit-area viewers.
Defending Big D is your SB Nation Stars blog
More after the jump.
Reminder: The H2H2 Pledge Drive continues through March 5th
- No doubt, you've seen the buttons above countless times. So far, Wings fans have raised $4,531.55 with six games remaining on the schedule. There are tons of pledges that are valid for every game of the drive. As a reminder, I'm donating $2 for every Steve Ott penalty minute and $10 for every goal scored while either Steve Ott or Mike Ribeiro sit in the box and think about what kind of bad things they've done. Commenter Red, White and a Mile High has also pledged $5 for every hit the Red Wings lay on Ribeiro or Ott and $10 if somebody drops the gloves with one of those buffoons. Feel free to drop your own Dallas-specific pledges; or, if nothing else, at least help us track those things tonight.
- The Wings called up forward Jan Mursak from Grand Rapids yesterday to take Patrick Eaves' spot in the lineup. Reports on how Eaves' MRI went have yet to be released, but Ken Holland says that he won't make the trip to Buffalo for Saturday's game and he's doubtful for next week's western trip. This will (hopefully) be Mursak's only game up on this trip though, as both Valtteri Filppula and Mike Modano are expected to be back on Saturday.
- Alex Goligoski will play his 2nd ever game as a Star since being dealt from Pittsburgh for James Neal and Matt Niskanen in what still appears to be the most one-sided trade since settlers got Manhattan. "Gogo" as Penguins fans called him played over 23 minutes in his debut and took two penalties, the second of which led to the game's only goal on the ensuing New Jersey power play. Needless to say, he's going to want to play better tonight.
- Dallas currently sits in the basement of the tough Pacific Division with 68 points. Even though they have as many as 3rd-in-the-Central Chicago, their record has them in 11th overall in the West. Of course, we should continue to marvel at how closely packed the peloton remains. I'm contractually obligated to mention that they're two points out of 5th. I'd rather not see them in the playoffs if that could be helped though.
- Speaking of "back" (we weren't, really), twice-former Red Wing Jason Williams now belongs to the Stars. He's played five games for them so far and registered one assist and four shots on goal. His very first game, he registered two missed shots, so rest easy knowing he's not overgone some dramatic change since we last saw him.
- For special teams, Detroit leads the Stars in both categories. The 5th-best power play in the league of the Wings puts them seven spots and 2.6 percentage points higher than Dallas' man advantage unit. On the shorthanded side, Detroit may be struggling at 15th in the league while killing 81.6% of penalties, but at least they're not as bad as the Stars, who are 25th-best, killing off only 78.9%
Pavel Datsyuk has been back for 8 games now and he's the talk of the town with how well he's picked back up. Did you know that Henrik Zetterberg has more points during that stretch? Do you want to know why that seems so weird? It's because Datsyuk's a +8 during that stretch while Zetterberg's only a +1. Bottom line is that the stats on Zetterberg's line are higher than they seem they would be watching them over the past few games.
- Score Prediction: Dallas is going to come into tonight's game looking to prove to themselves that they have a reason to keep fighting for the playoffs. They're going to be riled up and I fully expect them to bring postseason intensity with them. What I don't know is how well Detroit's going to be able to rise to that. I think we get another defensive battle, but ultimately, the WIngs solve a tough forecheck and pull out a 3-1 victory.
- Player of the Game Prediction: I'll take Nick Lidstrom. If the game's going to be defensive, might as well take the league's best defenseman.