After a four day layoff, the Colorado Avalanche visit the Dallas Stars tonight. The Avalanche are hoping to find their road mojo. I think the Avs home / road story has been told enough, so I won't fatigue your eyeballs with that today. The Stars are struggling around the .500 mark, and recently took the somewhat unorthodox step of firing their GM mid-season.
The Stars have the usual names at the top of their scoring list - Brendan Morrow and Mike Ribeiro have 18 points, Jere Lehtinen has 17, Sergei Zubov has 14, and super-hunky Mike Modano has 10. From the stats, it seems like the Stars are struggling in the depth department. Rebeiro, Morrow and Lehtinen (who I assume are playing together) are +20, while the rest of the team is -40. Yikes.
Jose Theodore will be in net for the Avs. I assume he'll face Marty Turco for the Stars, but don't have confirmation of that. With Ian Laperriere out, the Avs have just 12 healthy forwards. Actually, it might be 11, as Andrew Brunette left practice early yesterday after a hard fall. I expect the Avs two call up one - or maybe even two - forwards from Lake Erie today. I often get this wrong, though, so don't quote me.
- Goals per Game: Colorado 7th (3.12), Dallas 13th (2.83)
- Goals Against per Game: Colorado 11th (2.65), Dallas 19th (2.94)
- Powerplay: Colorado 17th (17.1 %), Dallas 10th (21.1 %)
- Penalty Kill: Colorado 19th (18.6 %), Dallas 10th (84.7 %)
- Faceoffs: Colorado 27th (47.4 %), Dallas 24th (48.2 %)
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Last year, the Avs opened the season against the Stars, took an early 2-0 lead...and ended up losing. That seemed to set the tone for the Avalanche for the entire season. This year, the Avs opened the season against the Stars, took an early 2-0 lead...and won 4-3. Interesting how that works, eh?
The Stars won all 4 games against the Avalanche last year (the Avs did manage one point by taking that first game to OT). Three of the games were high scoring affairs (5-4, 5-4 and 7-5). The Stars outscored the Avalanche 20-15. Tonight's game is the 2nd of the season (if you read the previous paragraph, you know we won the first game). After tonight, we don't see Dallas again until March 8th and 9th, when a home and home series closes out the season series.
It's also worth mentioning that these teams faced each other twice in the preseason, as there was a lot of nastiness in both meetings. The teams combined for 162 penalty minutes, 11 fighting majors and 1 cross-checking major (Laperriere smashing Jussi Jokinen in the face). There was very little in the regular season game, though, and many of the preseason combatants are either injured or in the AHL. Still, there's always a chance of a little bad blood between these teams.
Hot or Not
Joe Sakic has 11 points (1g, 10a) over the last 10 games and is a +3. Wojtek Wolski has 10 points (5g, 5a) and is a whopping +10.
Jarslav Hlinka has more healthy scratches (2) than points (1) in the last 10 games. And for all his exhilarating flash, Kyle Cumiskey has just one point (an assist) over the last 10.