Crosby will play in Dallas for only the second time in his career tonight. The last time the Pens were here in 2008, he was on the shelf due to injury. Crosby is playing tonight and he isn’t the only skilled player on a very good Pittsburgh team.
“It all starts with their talent,” said Stars head coach Marc Crawford. “You look at the number of people they’ve got that are high-end talent. It’s not just Crosby, (Alex) Goligoski, (Kris) Letang or (Evgeni) Malkin. Up front, they’ve got so much speed. I think speed is such a big factor. You look at guys like Talbot, (Chris) Kunistz, (Pascal) Dupuis and (Matt) Cooke,-- they’re all guys that have real good speed.”
Pittsburgh’s record is one point better than the Stars at 6-5-1 for 13 points, but their road record of 5-1-1 is quite impressive.
Crosby leads the team in points with 6 goals and 9 assists, and Makin (3 goals, 6 assists) is expected to play after missing one game over the weekend due to injury. Letang (3 goals, 8 assists) and Goligoski (3 goals, 5 assists) have contributed quite a bit from their blue line.
“This is a very good team,” said Crawford. “They’re all good puck moving guys and they skate real well. Speed is such a huge element in the game. They’ve been a team that is a playoff team and won the Stanley Cup two years ago. That knowledge and how you carry yourself as a winner is certainly a big part of their game. They’ve had to deal with some injuries this year. Like any good team, it’s hard to keep them together. They’ve had some movement but you’ve got a couple of young players coming and that’s a nice byproduct for their club too. They keep adding people. Those are all elements that make them good.”
“The players they have and the talent they got [make them tough]. It’ll be an exciting game,” Stars winger James Neal said. “Anytime you’re playing the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby, everyone gets excited. Their speed, their ability to change the games that players have, it will be a test for us. At the same time, we have great players too and we’re a fast club. We’ll do what we have to do to get two points.”
Brad Richards leads Dallas in scoring with 3 goals and 11 assists, while Neal comes in with 5 goals and 5 assists of his own. The Stars are 6-4-0 and are coming off an impressive 4-0 win over Buffalo on Saturday night.
For the Stars, it is all about special teams; getting their power play going while minimizing chances for the Pens will be vital.
“You always want to win the special teams battle,” Crawford said. “We’ve been improving both our power play and penalty kill.
It’s been much more dangerous of late. Winning that is a big element that makes your game that much better. On the other side, I don’t think you want to trade power play chances with a group as dangerous as the Pittsburgh group. Whether it’s Goligoski or Letang on the point, Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, the whole group is high-end talent. You’re talking about a few of the premiere power play guys in the league.”
The season is young but that does not minimize that this is a big game.
“The points count the same now as they do in March and April,” Crawford said. “We’d like to end this home stand strong and get some momentum as we head into November. It should be an exciting game.”