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On the Radar: Two Nights Before Christmas

by Josh Bogorad / Dallas Stars

‘Twas two nights before Christmas, when out in L.A.,

The Stars and the Kings played the game of the day.
The Kings came out hitting, and scored early on.
But then Seguin’s 19th made the deficit gone.
With new D stepping up, and Kari standing tall,
The Stars took the lead, but that too would fall.
L.A. struck again, and so at the first break,
The Stars went in tied, but control they would take.
In the second frame, they dominated play.
The top line again had something to say.
Lindy on the bench was managing the game,
As he sent out his weapons, and called them by name.
Go Tyler! Go Jamie! Now Garbutt and Eakin!
Then 18-year old rookie, “I am Val Nichushkin.”
The captain dropped gloves, and then with knuckles bare.
Two haymakers landed – one for Lasorda – on Regehr.
The Kings had set records, were the hottest around.
But the night belonged to Dallas, playing smart, playing sound.
The Stars hit the break with points in four straight.
They beat the Avs and Canucks, and then sealed the Kings’ fate.
With eleven road wins, near most in the land.
They’re climbing the standings… and with games in hand.
Through injuries and illness, they’ve not missed a beat.
The next-man-up Stars topping hockey’s elite.
Out from the break to keep the streak going,
A five-game home stand starts with the team surely knowing…
Monday at Staples was the high point thus far.
But there’s much more ahead for these Dallas Stars.
Eighteen wins pre-Christmas have caused lots of cheer,
Still the one in L.A. was the best of the year.
With Christmas awaiting, the team hopped on a flight.
Everybody Ropes, Everybody Rides. The Stars won tonight.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year. Here are a few things to keep ‘On the Radar’ this week as the Stars return to Dallas:

Home Cooking

All three Stars games this week will be at the AAC, as the club begins a shared season-long, five-game home stand. At the tail end of January, Dallas will also host five straight at home. It’s all part of a stretch where, beginning Friday, the Stars play 13 of the next 18 games in front of their home crowd. The last two games at the AAC were phenomenal for Dallas. They swept Colorado and Vancouver, outscoring them 7-3 in the pair. After beginning the home schedule just 3-3-2, Dallas is now 4-1-2 in their last seven games at home. If they can duplicate that kind of success over the next 13 home games, that would put them on pace to pick up 18 of the 26 possible points. There’s over a month during the stretch, so it won’t be determined in a single week, but these three games will set the tone for the run. With the way Dallas has played on the road this year, and their improved play at home recently, this week and subsequent month could provide a big opportunity to shoot up the standings and into a playoff position before the Olympic Break.

Next Man Up

The next-man-up philosophy has been thrust onto the Stars thanks to a litany of injuries suffered over the last month. However, the philosophy has also applied to success on their current four-game point streak. Each night the Stars have had different players step up and lead the club over the 3-0-1 stretch. In their victory over Colorado, Ray Whitney was the torch-bearer, notching his first two-goal game of the season. The following game against Vancouver, Erik Cole chimed in with his first three-point night of the year. In the shootout loss at San Jose, Kari Lehtonen anchored a team that played half the game with five defensemen, stopping 37 of 39 to help Dallas secure a point. On Monday in Los Angeles, the Stars top line scored three goals and totaled six points in the victory. Clearly the Stars first line will have games where they will dominate and lead offensively – we’ve already seen several examples so far this season. However, everybody in the locker room knows the club is at their best when that trio doesn’t have to shoulder the load each night. The breakout game for them is always a possibility, but if the other three lines produce the way they have over this stretch, the Stars truly become as offensively dangerous as most teams in the league can be. Hopefully for Dallas different guys can continue to lead throughout this home stand.

Second Verse, Better Than the First

This week the Stars host the Nashville Predators on Friday and the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. Both games will be rematches of losses suffered earlier this season by Dallas. If history is any indicator, that could translate into a positive for the Stars. This season the Stars have rematched teams who beat them in their initial encounter four different times. Dallas went on to claim points in all four of those contests. The Stars exacted revenge against both Anaheim and Los Angeles with regulation victories in their second meetings. They also picked up points in shootout losses versus Colorado and Chicago in the second meetings with those clubs. Perhaps it is coaching adjustments. Perhaps it’s coincidence. Or maybe it’s a combination of the two, but judging from a team that has not lost more than two games in a row all season, it is clear that the Stars have responded well this year following defeat. Dallas fell 3-1 in Nashville on December 12th and got blown out 6-1 in St. Louis on November 23rd. This weekend marks the latest chance for a response by the Stars.

Have Fun Storming the Castle

As good as the Los Angeles Kings have been over recent seasons, and as much as the Stars have struggled, Dallas has not had a losing record in a head-to-head season series with L.A. since the 2010-2011 campaign. New Year’s Eve provides the third and final meeting of the season this year between the former Pacific Division rivals, who have so far split the first two games this season. This week’s contest is also the only one of the year to take place in Dallas. While these clubs are used to playing each other six times per season, the realignment and scheduling this year means that they will not face-off in 2014 unless it’s in a playoff series, or the first half of the 2014-2015 season. The Stars once again can ensure of a .500 or better record vs. L.A. with any points on Tuesday night. Dallas and Los Angeles have played two entertaining games thus far. Coming off of the Stars huge win on Monday, the quick turnaround should provide some early fireworks on New Year’s Eve at the AAC as Dallas looks to continue to stay above water against the Kings.

Josh Bogorad is the Pre-Game, Post-Game, and Intermission host for the Stars radio broadcasts. He can be heard 30 minutes before face-off and immediately after games all season long on SportsRadio 1310AM and 96.7FM The Ticket. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshBogorad.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Josh Bogorad is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars.

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