On Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars host the Florida Panthers for the first of what will be five of their next six games at home. Not only is Dallas (11-5-0, 22 points) looking to put a quick end to a two-game losing streak, but they will also look to do so against a greatly-improved Florida team (8-5-3, 19 points), who is currently just two points behind Washington in the Southeast Division standings.
The Panthers are 6-3-0 on the road so far this season and come off a 3-2 home loss to Philadelphia on Sunday. This will be the first game of a two-game road trip and Florida is 0-0-1 against the West this year, losing 3-2 in overtime to Chicago back on November 3.
And they’re a team Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan knows well for a different reason.
“Kevin Dineen, their coach, I know well. He’s a guy that I kept in contact with quite a bit over the years. I know Florida plays like he played,” Gulutzan said. “They play hard. They’ve got puck-moving D now with [Brian] Campbell and [Ed] Jovanovski. Those guys jump into the play and they can play offense. We’re going to have to continue to play our game. They play that hard, in-your-face style too, so I think this is going to be a real good game tomorrow between two teams that want to play real similar.”
Dallas heads into this one on a two-game losing streak after dropping a pair of tough road games at Pittsburgh on Friday and in Detroit on Saturday. One bright spot for the Stars tomorrow could be the possible return of center Steve Ott
, who missed the entire four-game road trip with a hip injury.
“It’s going to be a game-time decision tomorrow. He’s very, very close. He’s a for sure for Friday. I’d say it’s pretty close for tomorrow,” Gulutzan said of Ott’s readiness to return on Tuesday. “He’s skated the last few days at home here. He’s feeling pretty good. I think the only thing is his conditioning.”
But if you ask the Stars fan favorite, he’s ready to roll.
“I’m definitely feeling a lot, lot better,” Ott said. “I’m excited to get back. I obviously need to continue to get my conditioning up and the pace up. We’ll see.”
And as if seeing one of the most improved teams in the Eastern Conference and the return of Steve Ott
isn’t enough, fans will get an added bonus tomorrow night as it’s Brenden Morrow
Bobblehead Night, an event his teammates and even his coach were quick to weigh in on.
Even though the Dallas captain has yet to see himself in bobblehead form, he admits it’s pretty cool to forever be immortalized in that fashion. “I guess my kids will like it. If it looks like me or not, it’s got the No. 10 on it and they’ll think that’s pretty cool,” Morrow said.
One of his longtime teammates has seen the bobblehead and he likes what he has seen.
“I think the doll’s probably a little better looking than Brenden. He’s very lucky that they went with such a great complex on his face with the rest of it and left all his scars away,” Ott said. “Definitely he’s got a good-looking bobblehead.”
Morrow is one of several Stars who will be featured on bobbleheads this season. But as of yet, there are no plans for a Gulutzan Bobblehead Night.
“I don’t know if that would be a big seller,” the affable Dallas head coach said. “I’d just have one for me and my kids. I want to see that Morrow one, though.”