Morning Skate: Star Power

Happy New Year to all the WIIM faithful.

The Wings ended 2011 on a high note defeated the Blues 3-0.

Tonight, the Wings will look to begin 2012 in similar fashion with a victory over a former and soon-to-be-once-again division rival.

It's down to Big D for a date with the Stars. A Stars team that started the season playing well and has since tailed off to the middle of the pack and out of the top eight. Gone are the days of Darian Hatcher, Mike Modano and psycho Eddie Belfour. Today's stars and led by Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn, and Kari Lehtonen. These aren't your grandfather's Stars (because your grandfather's Stars were the North Stars and played in Minnesota...and depending on your age, your father's Stars might have played in Minnesota too).

Tonight's star power will consist of Brendan Morrow doing his best Shane Doan impression, newly acquired Michael Ryder, and the league's fifth best face-off man, Steve Ott (look it up...it's on NHL.com). We'll see the diving of Mike Ribeiro, the comeback of Sheldon Souray, and the resurgence of Eric Nyquist.

Are you scared yet?

Didn't think so.

Of course, it doesn't mean we aren't in for a hockey game tonight. The Stars are a decent team and can play with anyone when they're on their game. Plus, the Wings suck on the road so I doubt they'll be taking them lightly. But all-in-all when it comes to star power (and talent), the Wings take the cake in this match up. Sorry Dallas, the only stars you'll be seeing tonight are the ones wearing the Winged Wheel and the stars floating around your head after you get Kronwalled.

Defending Big D is your SBNation Stars' blog.

Puck drop is just after 8p ET on FSD for the local folks and on the newly christened NBC Sports Network (formally Versus) for us out-of-towners.

The Expected Lineup

Johan Franzen -- Pavel Datsyuk -- Todd Bertuzzi

Valtteri Filppula -- Henrik Zetterberg -- Jiri Hudler

Danny Cleary -- Justin Abdelkader -- Drew Miller

Gustav Nyquist -- Cory Emmerton -- Joakim Andersson

*

Nicklas Lidstrom -- Ian White

Niklas Kronwall -- Brad Stuart

Jonathan Ericsson -- Mike Commodore

*

Jimmy Howard (starting)

Ty Conklin

Scratches: Jakub Kindl

Injuries: Darren Helm (groin), Tomas Holmstrom (groin) and Patrick Eaves (jaw)

RED WINGS HOW THEY MATCH UP STARS
24-13-1 (49 pts; 4th in West) Record 21-15-1 (43 pts; 10th in West)
3.21 (4th) Goals Per Game 2.65 (15th)
2.21 (5th) Goals Against Per Game 2.86 (20th)
19.5% (6th) Power Play % 15.2% (21st)
81.7% (21st) Penalty Kill % 81.2% (22nd)
Johan Franzen (15 goals) Goal Leader Michael Ryder (15 goals)
Pavel Datsyujk (39 points) Points Leader Jamie Benn (34 points)

  • The Red Wings are 102-96-34-5 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars franchise.
  • Dallas has lost three of their last five games and went 7-6-0 in the month of December, but they defeated the red-hot Bruins 4-2 in their last game on New Year's Eve.
  • Both teams are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games.
  • Datsyuk has 15 points in his last 12 games.
  • It's a road game tonight. The Wings aren't good on the road (9-11-0). Sooner or later they're going to have to improve that record e.g. come playoff time, or else it's going to be another disappointing summer.
  • Last time Detroit played in Dallas, the Wings won 7-3 and Patrick Eaves had a hat trick.

Prediction: Wings win 4-2 and Henrik Zetterberg is your player of the game.

Let's Go Red Wings.

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