Dallas Stars

Old rivals Stars, Red Wings struggling to deal with new mediocre reality

It’s been that kind of season for the Detroit Red Wings. Their streak of 25 consecutive years reaching the postseason is in danger as they are just two points from the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Detroit visits the Dallas Stars at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
It’s been that kind of season for the Detroit Red Wings. Their streak of 25 consecutive years reaching the postseason is in danger as they are just two points from the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Detroit visits the Dallas Stars at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. AP

Red Wings at Stars

7:30 p.m. Thursday, American Airlines Center, Dallas

TV: FSSW Plus

Radio: KTCK/1310 AM and 96.7 FM

Records: Red Wings 17-18-6, 40 points; Stars 17-17-8, 42 pts.

About the Red Wings: Detroit won the season’s first meeting 3-1 at home when the Stars scored in the game’s first 16 seconds but got nothing after, despite five power-play opportunities. The Red Wings are in a struggle to continue their 25-year run of reaching the postseason. They have only missed the playoffs twice in the last 32 years. This season they are at the bottom of the Atlantic Division and tied for eighth in the wild-card race. Detroit is without defensemen Niklas Kronwall (groin) and Brendan Smith (knee), both expected out at least two weeks. Center Frans Nielsen was the only Detroit player voted to the All-Star game. Nielsen has eight goals and 14 assists this season. Henrik Zetterberg leads the team in assists (21) and points (28). Goalie Jimmy Howard, who has played second fiddle to Petr Mrazek this season, is better than his 5-7-1 record indicates. He has a 1.96 goals-against average and a .934 save percent. Mrazek is 9-10-4 with a 3.14 GAA and an .896 save percent.

About the Stars: The Stars and Red Wings go way back. They have played 250 times, more than all Stars opponents except St. Louis (282) and Chicago (271). But both are floundering this season. Dallas has won just once in the past five games and injuries continue to hamper their continuity. The Stars expect to play without defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who took a hit from the Ducks’ Corey Perry on Tuesday and had to leave the game with an upper-body injury. Patrick Eaves stumbled to the bench late in the game after he collided with Perry. Jamie Benn continues to recover from a foot injury sustained New Year’s Eve. He has missed four games and, though closer to a return, still is not ready, according to coach Lindy Ruff. Goalie Antti Niemi made 36 saves in the shutout loss to the Ducks. It was his first full game since Dec. 20, though he had come on in relief of an ineffective Kari Lehtonen in the previous two games. Dallas’ lone All-Star representative, center Tyler Seguin, leads the team in goals (15), assists (26) and points (41). He has five goals and four assists in his past eight games.

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