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Division shuffle reignites heated rivalry between Stars, Red Wings

Once one of the team's most heated opponents, Bowness still expects strong play from rebuilding Detroit

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
Stars (2-0-0, 4 points) vs. Red Wings (2-4-0, 4 points)

7:30 p.m., American Airlines Center

TV: FOX Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 96.7-FM, 1310-AM

 

DALLAS -- The shuffling of divisions this season is going to create some interesting matchups for the Stars, and an eight-game slate against the Detroit Red Wings might be the most intense for Dallas fans.

Once one of the team's most hated rivals, the Red Wings have sort of faded into the backdrop with a move to the East in 2013 and only two meetings per year. But this really was a bitter rival back in the days of the Central Division, so seeing any red sweaters in the stands still has the ability to cause some tension at American Airlines Center.

The Stars are 5-2-0 in their past seven games against Detroit, and the Red Wings have been going through a bit of a rebuild, but coach Rick Bowness said he expects strong play from Detroit, which lost a 6-2 game to Chicago on Sunday.

Video: Benn's status up in air, Comeau out against Red Wings

"They were a much better team against Columbus than they were against Chicago," said Bowness. "They're a better team than they have been in the last couple of years, they've added some really good veterans, and if they play against us like they did against Columbus, this is going to be a very tough game."

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said his team is determined to get back on the right track.

"Of course there's urgency. Regardless of how long the season is, nobody wants to get into a streak where you're losing. Certainly, a shortened season has a bigger impact right away," Blashill said. "Do we want to nip this in the bud? Absolutely. Is there urgency to do that? Absolutely. Do we face a really good opponent that's played two great games so far? Yes. So we've got our hands full, for sure."

 

'Things are clicking' for Pavelski

Joe Pavelski is off to the hottest start in his career with seven points (three goals, four assists) in his first two games.

Pavelski, 36, has been driving the power play, which has scored eight goals in two games, and also has been a driving force on a line with Alexander Radulov. The 36-year-old center joined the Stars as a free agent last season after spending 13 seasons with San Jose.

Video: NSH@DAL: Pavelski earns third point with PPG in 3rd

Pavelski said that coming back for training camp before the playoffs and then coming back again for this season has helped his transition to the Stars.

"Definitely coming back during the bubble, we got off to a good start and worked on a few things," Pavelski said. "Whether I'm more comfortable the second time around, it's hard to say, exactly, but I definitely have some confidence. I definitely have an idea of what we're trying to do out there and things are clicking right now."

 

Benn skates with taxi squad, could play tonight

Jamie Benn, who has been out since leaving the season opener Friday with a lower-body injury, skated with the taxi squad in the morning. He could play, but that decision will be made before the game.

Jason Dickinson skated in Benn's spot on a line with Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov, as he did in Game 2, and Justin Dowling skated in Dickinson's spot on the fourth line. Tanner Kero was once again on the second line in place of the injured Joel Kiviranta (lower body) and Rhett Gardner was skating on the fourth line in place of Jason Robertson, who might get a healthy scratch.

Blake Comeau (COVID protocol) skated with the taxi squad on Tuesday, but will need a few more practices before he is ready to return, Bowness said.

Video: Stars, Red Wings meet again as new division rivals

 

By the numbers
74.3

That was Detroit's penalty killing rate last season, worst in the NHL. The Stars have scored eight power-play goals in their first two games.

 

799

That's the amount of points for Pavelski in his career. He can hit a big milestone tonight.

 

8

Stars defenseman Esa Lindell has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in eight career games against Detroit.

 

He said it

"Laxy (assistant Derek Laxdal) is doing a great job with the pre-scout and he's got both units in sync. Right now, they are feeling it. They are making great plays - clearly - and the puck is going in which is certainly beneficial. Right now, you can just feel the confidence that they have. They are moving for each other. Again, there is a lot chemistry involved. That group has been together since last year and they are really doing a great job of reading off each other and finding the right plays and putting pucks to the net. And it's going in. But they have been doing a great job."

-- Bowness on the power play's success to start the season

 
Stars projected lineup

Jason Dickinson - Roope Hintz - Denis Gurianov

Tanner Kero - Joe Pavelski - Alexander Radulov

Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Ty Dellandrea

Rhett Gardner - Justin Dowling - Nick Caamano

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen - Jamie Oleksiak

Andrej Sekera - Mark Pysyk

Anton Khudobin

Jake Oettinger

Injured: Jamie Benn (lower body), Joel Kiviranta (lower body), Blake Comeau (COVID protocol), Ben Bishop (offseason knee surgery), Tyler Seguin (offseason hip surgery), Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches)

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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