Originally written on Stars of Big D  |  Last updated 11/3/11

DETROIT - JANUARY 29: Steve Ott #29 of the Dallas Stars skates against Jiri Hudler #26 of the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on January 29, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Colorado Avalanche (7-5-0, 14 pts) @ Dallas Stars (8-3-0, 16 pts)

7:30 PM, November 4, 2011

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

The Stars finally get back onto the ice tonight after a six-day break, taking on the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs are one of the more suprising teams in the league so far this year as they have gotten out to a 7-5-0 record and are second place in their division, just behind the even more surprising Edmonton Oilers.

Colorado is coming off a 4-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at home despite outshooting the Yotes by a 40-28 margin. Phoenix plays a very similar game to Dallas so the Stars could be facing a shot deficit in this game as well.

Considering how Colorado has done at home this year, the 4-1 loss actually isn't a surprise. The Avs are a league worst 1-4-0 on home ice and a league best 6-1-0 when they are on the road. Colorado's prowess on the road is actually quite scary. Colorado leads the NHL in road goals, scoring 24 goals in seven games on the road. That's one better than the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the TB has played one extra game. No other team in the league has more than 20 road goals.

 

They are also tied for the league lead in power-play goals on the road with eight and they have the second best power-play in the NHL. This team can put the puck into the back of the net (at least when they are not on home ice). The good thing for Dallas is that the Avs do give up a lot of goals and they aren't a very good penalty-killing team (19th in the NHL).

The teams Colorado have faced on the road aren't exactly slouches either. Among the teams they have beat: Boston (while they aren't exactly doing well, they are the Stanley Cup champions), Toronto (2nd in the NHL in points, their only home loss this season was to the Avs), Ottawa (right behind Toronto in their division, the Avs demolished the Senators 7-1) and the Chicago Blackhawks (2nd place in the Western Conference). The Avs have been facing quality opponents away from home and putting up impressive numbers.

Colorado boasts an impressive squad of youngsters. While most Stars fans will know who Matt Duchene is, it's actually the other Avs young guys that have stepped up to the plate this year. 2nd year center Ryan O'Reilly leads the team in points (9) and assists (7). Rookie sensation Gabriel Landeskog has a point in three of the Avs last four games and is 5th among all NHL rookies this year in points (though he is tied for second in goals, he doesn't get a lot of assists). Defenseman Erik Johnson has six assists on the powerplay, two behind the league leader.

Colorado's starting goaltender is Semyon Varlamov, who isn't having that great of a season. His GAA (2.51) and save percentage (.920) are near the bottom of the league among starters. He's allowed at least three goals in six of his nine starts this season. If Dallas can get shots onto Varlamov, they should be able to score.

Injuries

The only injury that Dallas has to worry about is Steve Ott (hip). He's out for the game. Nick Grossman was cut in the face by a skate in the last game and received 60 stitches, but isn't expected to miss any time. He'll be the guy on the ice wearing a full cage.

Colorado is missing winger Peter Mueller (head) and he's out for this game.

Notes

  • Both Colorado and Dallas have had some trouble on the PK lately. Colorado has allowed a PP goal in four of their last five games. Dallas has allowed a PP goal in five of their last seven. With how good the Avs PP is, it is crucial that Dallas stays out of trouble during this game (I'm looking at you Sheldon Souray).
  • With the Ott injury, the lines have been changed up among the forwards and some interesting trios have been formed. First line is now Eriksson-Benn-Ryder, which has the potential to really be dynamic. Ryder needs to get get going and if Benn and Eriksson can't do it, no one on this team can. Second line is now Morrow-Ribeiro-Burish. This combo was on the ice during the closing moments of the last Phoenix Coyotes game and Burish tied it up with a minute left. The last two lines are the usual trios, Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak on the third line and Wandell-Dowell-Peterson on the fourth.
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