Dallas Stars (2-1-0) at Minnesota Wild (1-1-2)
October 12, 2013 @ 7:00 PM CT
TV: TXA 21
Radio: 1310 The Ticket (AM)
The Stars will play the second game of a back-to-back set for the first time this season against another new Central Division opponent, the Minnesota Wild, tonight in St. Paul. Back-to-backs have been an issue for the Stars the past couple of seasons, and with a new coach and a backup goaltender not named Andrew Raycroft, Richard Bachman or Cristopher Nilstorp, the Stars hope their luck will change tonight.
Kari Lehtonen, who left last night's game against the Winnipeg Jets, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Since he started last night's game, he was not expected to start tonight against the Wild anyway, but it is nonetheless a predicament the Stars are going to have to deal with for the foreseeable future.
Dan Ellis, who faced 23 shots last night, stopping 22, will get the start tonight. The Stars recalled Jack Campbell from the Texas Stars to back up Ellis earlier this afternoon.
Pleased with the results from last night's game, head coach Lindy Ruff left his lines unchanged, with Chris Mueller, Kevin Connauton and Lane MacDermid being healthy scratches again. Aaron Rome is still recovering from hip surgery, and remains out of the lineup with that injury.
Buoyed by his four-point night against the Jets on Friday night, Tyler Seguin leads the Stars with five points (2 G, 3 A), followed closely by Jamie Benn (1 G, 3 A) and Alex Chiasson (3 G, 1 A).
Lines should look like this for the Stars:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Rich Peverley
Ray Whitney - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel - Shawn Horcoff - Erik Cole
Ryan Garbutt - Vernon Fiddler - Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Goligoski - Sergei Gonchar
Trevor Daley - Jordie Benn
Brendan Dillon - Stephane Robidas
Scratches: Kevin Connauton (healthy), Lane MacDermid (healthy), Chris Mueller (healthy), Aaron Rome (hip), Kari Lehtonen (lower body)
The Wild are in a similar predicament with their starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who is out with a knee injury. Josh Harding will be starting in his place tonight, with Darcy Kuemper backing him up. Kuemper was called up from the AHL's Iowa Wild
Matt Cooke (1 G, 2 A), Zach Parise (3 G, 0 A), and Mikael Granlund (0 G, 3 A) are all tied for the team lead in points.
The Wild won their most recent game against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night 2-1, outshooting them 30-15. Josh Harding only saw nine shots on goal at even strength. To say the Wild are a defense-first team is a bit of an understatement.
The Wild lineup should look like this:
Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter
Dany Heatley - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine
Stephane Veilleux - Zenon Konopka - Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin
Keith Ballard - Jared Spurgeon
Matt Dumba - Clayton Stoner
Scratches: Marco Scandella (healthy), Nate Prosser (healthy), Mike Rupp (knee), Niklas Backstrom (knee), Charlie Coyle (knee)
PUCK POSSESSION BATTLE
The Wild are not only decent at shot suppression, but through four games, they have shown they are also quite decent at possessing the puck. Entering tonight, the Wild own the highest 5-on-5 Corsi-For percentage at 60.8 percent, meaning they have generated, on average, over 60 percent of the game's shot attempts.
The Stars, in comparison, boast an overal 5-on-5 Corsi-For percentage of 51.2 percent, good for 12th overall. That Stars Corsi-For percentage is negatively skewed quite a bit after last night's Jets game, since they basically let their foot off the gas and let the Jets shoot a lot of shots from distance in the third period.
Some good news for Stars fans is that the team has been great with possessing the puck in "close" situations during 5-on-5 play, boasting a 58.4 percent Corsi-For percentage, good for third overall. The teams ahead of the Stars? The Wild (60.1 percent, 2nd overall) and the Sharks (61.9 percent, 1st overall).
What about 5-on-5 hockey when the game is tied? The Stars have also been excellent with puck possession in this scenario, since they have the third highest Corsi-For percentage at 59.7 percent. On the other side of the puck, the Wild own the best 5-on-5 tied Corsi-For percentage at 64.4 percent.
All statistics courtesy of Extra Skater.
This will undoubtedly be the toughest test for the Stars thus far in this young season. Can they maintain their highly-rated puck possession game against the Wild on the second night of a back-to-back? We will find out tonight, starting at 7 PM.