Dallas Stars (28-23-2, 58 points) @ Buffalo Sabres (23-24-6, 52 pts)
6:30 PM CT, February 10, 2012
First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York
Oh no! It's another back-end of a back-to-back game for the Dallas Stars. Everyone can go ahead mark that L onto their pocket schedules as Dallas surely can't win one of these right? Dallas gets try number 10 tonight, this time against those oh so wonderful Stanley Cup losing Buffalo Sabres.
Dallas needs to shore up the defense and stop (please stop) the lazy turnovers that are killing this team. Kari Lehtonen and Richard Bachman have enough to worry about. They don't need to think about whether or not their teammates understand that giving the puck away is bad. It's those two things that have led to all these losses for Dallas on the back-to-backs, especially the defense.
Nick Grossman needs to realize that you can't stop a shooter by standing behind him as he rushes the net. Since the turn of the calendar to 2012, he's become a human turnstile.
Shore up the defense, wake up Loui Eriksson (pointless in five games) and get some points from the top line against a struggling defensive team and Dallas might finally win one of these games. With the LA Kings game coming up on Sunday, this one is critical.
Brenden Morrow is out again with his neck problems. Sheldon Souray is questionable after getting a foot injury from blocking a shot yesterday. Give me some Mark Fistric in his place and not Adam Pardy please.
Richard Bachman should be getting the start tonight. He was let down by his defense last time he started the latter of a B2B so hopefully they show up tonight.
EDIT: Curveball ahead. Gulutzan decided that to change his mind from last night and start Lehtonen instead.
more after the jump
The tough thing for Dallas will be that the Sabres are as high as a kite after beating the Boston Bruins 6-0 on Wednesday and are 4-0-1 in their last five games (hey, maybe they'll have a letdown game tonight).
They're suddenly scoring more goals (10 goals in their last two games) and Ryan Miller has allowed more than one goal only once in his past five games (most of this with Lindy Ruff sidelined with broken ribs).
If Dallas hopes to win tonight, they need to stop Jason Pominville. Pominville leads the Sabres with 19 points and 30 assists this season. He's a demon on the power-play (6 goals and 13 assists) so Dallas needs to avoid the stupid stupid penalties.
The Sabres will be getting a boost as winger Thomas Vanek should be returning in this game (seriously, does everyone have to return against Dallas?). Vanek is second on the Sabres in points and assists and is tied in goals with Jason Pominville.
I would expect Ryan Miller to be in net tonight.
Out for Buffalo: C Jochen Hecht (concussion) and LW Colin Stuart (upper body). Unfortunately for Dallas, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is probably out as well with broken ribs after colliding with defenseman Jordan Leopold.
Notes and thoughts:
- Buffalo is 5-0-4 in their last nine home games and 12-9-6 at home on the season.
- Dallas is 13-13-0 on the road.
- Dallas hasn't won a regular season road game in Buffalo since Oct. 7, 1997. Here's to hoping that 14 year drought ends tonight.
- Sabres are 5 for 5 on the PK in their last four games. Their PP has been terrible though, 0 for 12 in their last five games.
- Benn has four goals and two assists in the past five games. He'll be needed sorely tonight if Dallas hopes to win.
- Ryan Miller has had success playing Dallas. He's 3-0-0 with a 2.60 GAA in his career against the Stars. His save percentage, however, is only .887% so if Dallas can pound the net, they have a chance.
- Oh, and Buffalo fans. It counted.