Stars aim to improve on road at Detroit (Jan 16, 2018)
DETROIT -- The road has not proved to be a kind place for the Dallas Stars, so naturally, being in the midst of a four-game trip could prove challenging as they battle to hang on to a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
With a 9-11-2 record away from home, the Stars know they need to be improve to maintain their playoff position.
"The challenge is to bring our best on the road," Stars captain Jamie Benn told the Dallas Morning News. "We have to find a way to dig in and get some points in some tough buildings."
So far, so good. The Stars went into Boston on Monday and, although they blew a 2-0 lead in the third period, rallied for a 3-2 overtime win over the Bruins, arguably the hottest team in the East right now. Boston was 9-0-3 in its last 12 games before Monday.
With the win, Dallas improved to 4-1-1 against Atlantic Division opposition this season.
Now the Stars bring their road show to Detroit, where the Red Wings are suddenly finding a comfort zone in their new digs at Little Caesars Arena, going 5-1 in their last six home games.
The Wings are also coming home after an impressive road win, a 4-0 shutout Sunday of the Blackhawks in Chicago. Captain Henrik Zetterberg thought that a switch in lineup that saw the Wings go back to the traditional setup of 12 forwards and six defensemen, instead of the 11 and seven that coach Jeff Blashill had regularly employed, was what got the team going.
"I think when we play with four lines and six D it gives us a little different look," Zetterberg said. "We can roll on four lines a little bit more. We don't have to double shift (a forward) like if we play with 11 and seven."
Center Dominic Turgeon, the son of former NHLer and current Los Angeles Kings assistant coach Pierre Turgeon, was that 12th forward, recalled from AHL Grand Rapids to make his NHL debut on Sunday working on the fourth line between David Booth and Luke Witkowski.
Expect the same lineup to go for Detroit. Forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, who suffered lower-body injuries during Saturday's 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh, won't be available.
"They'll both be out tomorrow," Blashill confirmed. "Is it longer than that? I don't know that answer."
The Stars made center Jason Spezza a healthy scratch on Monday, although Dallas general manager Jim Nill indicated that Spezza will be back in action Tuesday. Spezza hasn't scored a goal since Dec. 9 and he has gone pointless in his last five games.
"He's in tomorrow," Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock confirmed to NHL.com. "He'll play tomorrow. We need a reset. He's got to play better, a lot better, and he's capable of it. He's a big part of what we're doing here, but we need a better player. And we'll get one tomorrow.
"He knows what he needs to do better. He'll do it tomorrow, and then we'll be off and running."