NHL: Dallas Starts at Columbus Blue Jackets Preview, Picks, Odds Print
Written by Anthony Rome   
Monday, 03 December 2007 03:56
NHL Headline News

Road Trip Not Over

The Dallas Stars have spent the last week on a tour of the NHL's Atlantic Division, traveling to all five cities. But their trip isn't over yet.

The Stars look to conclude their season-high six game road trip with four victories as they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Columbus –115 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas +105 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

In a seven-day span, the Stars (14-9-4) completed their schedule against the Atlantic for 2007-08. Dallas began the trip with victories against the New York Rangers and New York Islanders to extend its winning streak to six games, then fell in New Jersey and Pittsburgh before winning 4-1 at Philadelphia on Saturday.

The Stars fell behind less than a minute into the game, but Jeff Halpern tied it at 1 late in the first. Jussi Jokinen, Antti Miettinen, and Mike Ribeiro scored second-period goals to put Dallas up for good, snapping its two-game slide.

"We have a very strong group here and there's never an excuse for not winning,'' Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "We recognize the fact that we have some guys who are tired and we throw all that on the table and make sure that that's not an excuse.''

Miettinen and Ribeiro's goals came on the power play, which came to life after the Stars had been 0-for-13 the previous four games.

"We had a hard time setting up,'' Ribeiro said. "(Against Philadelphia) I think we passed the puck better on the power play.''

The Stars have owned their series with the Blue Jackets (12-10-4) since Columbus entered the league in 2000, going 19-3-3. But the Blue Jackets had won four of the previous five games before Dallas' 3-2 shootout road win on Oct. 17.

In that game, Brenden Morrow, who leads the Stars with 25 points, scored the game-tying goal with just over a minute to play before Jokinen netted the lone goal in the shootout.

Despite their recent struggles, the Stars have excelled in special teams. Their power play (23.5 percent) and penalty killing (87.4 percent) are among the five best in the league.

Columbus (12-10-4) got out to a 7-3-1 start thanks to the superb goaltending of Pascal Leclaire, who went 7-2-0 to start the season. Leclaire, though, has won just three of his last seven starts, and the Blue Jackets have stumbled as a team, going 5-7-3.

Leclaire pulled his hamstring on Nov. 26 and has missed the team's last two games. The NHL's leader with six shutouts, Leclaire is day-to-day and may get the start against Dallas.

Columbus did stop a two-game slide on Saturday with a 4-3 overtime win at Calgary, blowing a 2-0 first-period lead before rookie Curtis Glencross hopped over the boards on a line change in overtime and scored the game-winner.

"An awesome feeling, it's unbelievable,'' said Glencross, whose five goals tie him for third on the team. "One of the first shifts I've ever played 4-on-4 overtime for us. I just came straight off the bench, went straight down the middle, and there was no one around me.''

The Blue Jackets are led by Rick Nash, one of the game's premier forwards. The 23-year-old has 16 goals and 12 assists and is on pace to shatter his career high of 57 points, which he accumulated in both 2003-04 and last season.

Nash, however, has gone four games without a goal after a five-game goal-scoring streak.

While Dallas has one of the league's best power-play units, the Blue Jackets are among the NHL's best at killing penalties with an 88.2 percent effective rate.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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