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Stars (31-34-11) at Bruins (40-30-6) Preview

The Stars have the worst record of Boston's remaining opponents, but the Stars big guns make this the trappiest of trap games.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts:

When: 7:30 PM EST

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA - the Bruins only have on road game left on the schedule, which takes place on Sunday.

What: a hockey game between the Dallas Stars (31-34-11, 73 points in 76 games, 6th in the Central, 11th in the West) and the Boston Bruins (40-30-6, 86 points in 86 games, 4th in the Atlantic, 8th in the East)

Where to Watch: NESN, Fox Sports Southwest

Where to Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub, Dallas Sportsradio 96.7/1310

Opposing SBNation Blog: Defending Big D

Game Notes:

  • After making the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, and posting winning records in all three, the Stars have taken a step backwards due to an even-thinner than before defensive corps, injuries to a lot of their forwards not named Jamie Benn or Tyler Seguin, and age continuing to catch up to their goalie tandem.
  • With a stretch that includes a back-to-back against Florida and Chicago, followed by a final week's schedule of Tampa Bay, Ottawa, and Washington, the struggling Stars are the last team that the Bruins should, on paper, be able to take care of business against. It's no sure thing, but good teams win these games.
  • In terms of the Bruins Lines/Pairings, we'll have an update a little later this morning once it's clear whether the Colin Miller - John-Michael Liles swap will stick.
  • The Bruins won the only other match-up this season, 6-3 at Dallas on Feb. 26th.
  • The tandem of Jamie Benn -- 25-42-67--and Tyler Seguin--25-45-70--has once against been dynamite for the Stars. As old as this discussion might get for some, you can't beat the Stars without finding ways to hold their line down. Especially since...
  • ...the Stars led the NHL in Goals last season, en route to a Central Division title, lighting the lamp 267 over the course of 2015-16 season. This year, the scoring behind Benn & Seguin's Goalie Terrorizing Service has largely flopped and--coupled with the key losses of Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski in the category of "defenseman who can make a pass"--Dallas has dropped to 17th in the league with 207 goals for (with six games left).
  • So stark is the Stars top heaviness this season that PPQB John Klingberg and Jason Spezza are tied for 3rd/4th on the team with 45 points apiece, and no one else on the Stars has more than 31 points. The Stars possession numbers have also plummeted this season. It's a mess.
  • Leftwinglock thinks the Bruins will get the weaker of the Stars goalie tandem in Antii Niemi, who's posted a forgettable .892 in 34 appearances on the season. Kari Lehtonen is the other option, whose recently hot streak--2nd Star of the Week last week with a .959 in four appearances--brought his SV% to a sparkling .905 in 55. That's probably about what an average goalie looks like with Dallas's defense, I'd wager. Ugh.
  • There's no confirmation yet, but it'd be fair to expect Tuukka Rask to get the start and then leave one of the Saturday/Sunday games to Anton Khudobin. At least, that'd be the smart way to play things considering Rask'll be needed next week and good things generally don't happen when you play the same goalie three times in four days (in fact, good things didn't happen a whole week ago when this was tried).
All signs point to a game where, if the Bruins can limit the Stars' first line/Power Play to a goal or two, there's not much else to stop the B's from gathering another much-needed two points. Dallas's big guns would no doubt like to play spoiler, having already been eliminated, but the Bruins are the deeper team by far.