Dallas Stars (9-11-5) at Detroit Red Wings (14-6-5)
|Date & Time||Thursday December 4, 2014, 7:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Detroit Red Wings -175 / Dallas Stars +159 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
Things have not gotten off to quite the start that the Dallas Stars had hoped for this season. At 9-11-5 the Stars sit sixth in the highly competitve Central Division standings, and with the way the division will most likely play out it's going to be a tough hill to climb out of if Dallas keeps playing this way. The Stars had rebounded from a three game losing streak by winning three straight, only to fall right back into another three game slide. They've allowed 15 goals over their last three losses and their 3.52 goals against per game average is easily last in the National Hockey League. This is a club that is 10th in the league in goals scored but they're really struggling because they just can't play any defense. Kari Lehtonen took the loss on Tuesday night in Toronto and the normally reliable netminder saw his struggles continue. It's hard to blame Lehtonen for the defensive issues however. Despite the fact that he's allowed the most goals against of any goalie in the league he's also faced the second most shots and made the second most saves. Jason Spezza's fifth goal of the season gave the Stars some life in the second period after they fell into a 3-0 deficit, but the Maples Leafs responded a few minutes later to take the lead for good. Ryan Garbutt and Ales Hemsky added third period goals for the Stars but it was just window dressing at that point. It isn't going to get any easier for the Stars on Thursday when they travel to Detroit to take on the Red Wings. Detroit is scoring more goals per game than Dallas this season, averaging 3.04 per game which is good for sixth in the league. The Red Wings have the seventh best power play in the league and are averaging just under 31 shots per game on the season. Dallas needs to find a way to get their focus on the defensive zone because this is a club that is loaded with offensive talent and they don't need many opportunities to score during a hockey game. Once they start committing to taking care of their own end they'll quickly find a way to start winning some more hockey games moving forward.
Detroit hit a little bump in the road on Tuesday night with a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers, but the Red Wings have been playing some extremely good hockey this season. They've been an offensive force in most games and their possession game really limits the number of chances that opponents generate against them. They've lost just three times in their last 10 games and on most nights they're putting up at least three goals a game if not more. It's difficult to beat this Detroit team when they're playing their game and now that Mike Babcock has his big guns back in the lineup this year the results are showing on the ice. Detroit might have lost on Tuesday night but they still managed to fire 41 shots on goal, including 17 in the third period. Jimmy Howard took the loss but the American netminder as 11 wins on the season and posted a 2.23 goals against average and .916 save percentage. The Wings are going to need a strong performance from Howard in this one because the Stars will be hungry to snap their losing streak and despite their defensive struggles Dallas can light the lamp. Detroit is a heavy favorite in this one but this is one of those games that can go either way because of the way both teams can generate offene at even strength. With the line in this one the best bet might be on the total and these two teams have been finding the back of the net a lot recently.