Originally written on Stars of Big D  |  Last updated 1/3/12

Detroit Red Wings (24-13-1, 49 pts) @ Dallas Stars (21-15-1, 43 pts)

7:00 PM CT, January 3, 2012

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

In case anyone has forgotten, Red Wings suck. Ok, now that that's out of the way, let's get the preview rolling. The first game of the new year for Dallas is a chance for them to build on a great game on New Year's Eve. Dallas has what was probably their best game of the season in their 4-1 win over the Bruins despite major injuries in their defense. The injuries only got worse in the backline so things only get more interesting tonight.

Stephane Robidas and Sheldon Souray are still out, with Souray just getting placed on IR. Philip Larsen, who had been playing very well this season, sustained a concussion and will miss this game so reinforcements had to be called up. Up to the NHL come two youngsters that have been having excellent seasons in the AHL this year, Brendon Dillon and Jordie Benn. Yes yes, Jordie is the brother of Jamie so that will be an interesting sidenote tonight in his NHL debut.

The Stars have shown just what they could do in that game against Boston and it's up to them to keep up that level of intensity for the remainder of the season. That last game in 2011 needs to be the turning point in the year where this team looks at themselves and realizes that this is it. There can be no more games like what happened in the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. With the West in another close race this year again, every point matters from here on out.

Detroit enters this game playing pretty well, winning three of their last four. They've been riding the Jimmy Howard train as of late, culminating in a 3-0 shutout in their game against the Blues. His 23 wins lead the league. When you play the Red Wings, you know who you have to watch out for, Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk is the team leader in points, assists and powerplay points and assists. Johan Franzen leads the team in goals and is 2nd in just about every other offensive category to Datsyuk.

The Red Wings won the previous matchup this season, a 5-2 thrashing of the Stars in Detroit.

Kari Lehtonen should get the start again tonight. As stated above, Souray, Robidas and Larsen will be out for this game. Tomas Vincour is also still dinged up and is out.

The Red Wings will be without Darren Helm (groin), Tomas Holstrom (groin) and Patrick Eaves (broken jaw).

Notes:

  • Detroit is 9-11-0 on the road this year. Dallas is 12-6-1 at home.
  • Red Wings have the second best goal differential in the league. Their 39 goal differential is only behind the Bruins.
  • Dallas currently sits in 3rd place in the Pacific Division and 10th place in the West. The Kings, who lead with 45 points, and the Phoenix Coyotes (4th in the Pacific and 11th in the West) are separated by only 3 points.
  • Stars are 10-0-0 when leading after the 2nd period.
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