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Morning Skate: Stars Face Rested Avs in Tough Back-to-Back

Because of an issue in Nashville, the Dallas Stars will face a rested Colorado Avalanche team in Denver on the second night of a back-to-back.

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Coming off another late-game comeback at home on Friday, the Dallas Stars face a tough test in a back-to-back from a Mile High against the Colorado Avalanche. 

Originally, both teams were scheduled to be playing the second night of a back-to-back with travel. But when a water break postponed the Avs vs Predators game in Nashville, it meant that Dallas would be tested even further. 

The Avs came out on top of Dallas in a shootout on Monday at the American Airlines Center. 

With the two-goal comeback on Friday against Winnipeg, the Stars earned a point for the seventh game in a row. They are 4-0-3 over that span. 

Despite the streak, Dallas has not been playing nearly as completely as they did early in the season. Without two third-period multi-goal comebacks and a tying goal on Monday, the record would be far different. 

But who cares? 

“You’ve got to win all kinds of different ways in this league over 82 games,” Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. 

The fact is, the Stars have not lost in regulation since Nov. 11. They have only five regulation losses in the first 21 games. And the club has found a way to win, securing them a spot atop the Central Division after the arguably important American Thanksgiving checkpoint. 

Dallas also has two players playing well beyond expectations. 

Jason Robertson was expected to be good. Heck, he may have even been expected to be great. But after missing training camp and every preseason game, can we really say anyone predicted that he would be leading the NHL with 18 goals and sitting just one point behind Connor McDavid with 34 points in 21 games? I don’t think so. 

“It’s incredible how he produces,” DeBoer said. “His production is amazing to me because he doesn’t have the puck a lot. He doesn’t jump off the sheet at you, carrying it end-to-end or with a dynamic skating ability or one-on-one ability. It’s just production, sheer production. But at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”

Captain Jamie Benn is a bit of a different story. 

His expectations were low after struggling to find his offense for a few seasons. The 33-year-old has injury history and the decline seemed to be one that would continue later into his career. 

When Benn was placed on the Stars third line out of camp, I am sure expectations were lowered even more. But Benn had other plans. 

In November, the captain sits behind only Jason Robertson for the league lead with 21 points. After starting the season with no goals in 10 games, Benn has tallied 10 times in his last 11. 

His success has made Dallas even more dangerous and is well-deserved for a guy that has consistently kept his head down, worked hard, and led by example. 

“I saw a guy that every time I showed up for work this summer, after I took the job, he was the first guy in the gym, the first guy in training, the first guy trying to get quicker,’” DeBoer said. “Nobody put more work in than him coming into this season. You get what you put in sometimes, and it definitely started there for him. He’s getting rewarded now, and he’s playing fantastic.”

Starting goaltender: Although not confirmed, Scott Wedgewood is likely to get the start on Saturday. Pete DeBoer mentioned that Wedgewood was healthy and ready to go following his injury and that the original plan was to get him in against the Avs. 

Wedgewood is 4-3-1 with a .904 save percentage this season. 

Read More: Wedgewood: 'My leg was a steel pipe, I couldn't settle it down."

Stars Projected Lines

  • Jason Robertson – Roope Hintz – Joe Pavelski
  • Mason Marchment – Tyler Seguin – Denis Gurianov
  • Jamie Benn – Wyatt Johnston – Ty Dellandrea
  • Fredrik Karlstrom – Radek Faksa – Luke Glendening
  • Miro Heiskanen – Colin Miller
  • Ryan Suter – Nils Lundkvist
  • Esa Lindell – Jani Hakanpaa
  • Scott Wedgewood
  • Jake Oettinger

Avs Scouting Report 

The defending champs started the season a bit slowly, but have surged back near the top of the division as of late. Heading into tonight, Colorado trails Dallas by five points with three fewer games played.

Mikko Rantanen (13G,15A), Nathan Mackinnon (5G, 22A), and Cale Makar (6G, 15A) lead the way for the Avs.

Jersey swap: The Stars will wear their green home jersey tonight, as the Avalanche debut their white ‘Reverse Retro’. The Stars will also wear green on Monday in St. Louis. 

Dallas debuted their own retro jerseys Friday against Winnipeg. 

He Said It 

“The goalie out situation tonight was big,” DeBoer said of Friday’s comeback. “We have confidence in our ability to score. There’s not a lot of panic back there. Unfortunately, we have to get back to not putting ourselves in the position where you have to come back one or two [goals] late in the third period as much as we have lately.”

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