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Canadiens @ Stars: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

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The Canadiens head to Dallas to face off against a Stars team fresh off of a win against the Colorado Avalanche.

NHL: DEC 31 Canadiens at Stars Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens @ Dallas Stars

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: Sportsnet East, CITY-TV (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the Stars region: Fox Sports-Southwest
Streaming: NHL.tv / NHL Live

Suddenly, after three straight victories, a convincing defeat of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a stellar road effort against the Arizona Coyotes, and a clutch comeback against the Vegas Golden Knights, the angst following consecutive defeats against the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks are a distant memory. Now, the Canadiens will try to make it four in a row — and three for three on their Western road trip — against the Dallas Stars.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Flyers
Canadiens Statistic Flyers
8-5-2 Record 7-5-2
2-1-0 H2H Record (18-19) 1-2-0
52.0% (8th) Corsi-for pct. 52.9% (3rd)
3.67 (4th) Goals per game 3.29 (10th)
3.20 (20th) Goals against per game 3.14 (19th)
20.0% (16th) PP% 24.1% (6th)
68.9% (30th) PK% 83.7% (12th)
W-W-W-L-W Form L-L-W-SO-W

The narrative surrounding the Stars in recent years has been the stellar play of their top line: Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, and Tyler Seguin ... and the complete lack of a supporting cast. In 2017-18, Radulov’s first season with the club, the gap between the lowest scoring member of the trio and the next highest point-getting forward (Mattias Janmark) was 38 points. Last year, it was 23 points (Radek Faksa).

This season, the arrivals of Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry have allowed the Stars to try to spread the wealth, breaking up their top line to put Pavelski in Radulov’s usual spot. Indeed, the big line has only been intact for four games this season. The move may have been counterproductive though. Through the first part of this season, it is the unfamiliar name of Roope Hintz that sits atop the Stars’ scoring ledger, not Tyler Seguin, Benn or Radulov. Does this mean that the Stars finally have secondary scoring? Maybe, but the bigger reason for Hintz’s elevation is likely the fact that Radulov (eight points) and especially Benn (six points) are slumping to start the campaign.

Perry, Pavelski, and Hintz may have given the Stars enough weapons to assemble a credible second line, but this is still very much a top heavy team. Seguin averages over 20 minutes per night, while 35-year-old Pavelski is second among forwards at over 18 minutes played. You have to go to third-place Radulov before finding a player with comparable ice-time to Canadiens’ leader Phillip Danault. On defence, Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg log 24-plus minutes per night, compared to Jeff Petry’s 23:49 and Shea Weber’s 22:47.

The Stars were always going to be a bubble team in a very tough Central Division, and while they’ve taken several steps to rectify their biggest weaknesses, the Stars are still the same old Stars. Unsurprisingly, they’ve been left behind by not only a hard charging youth-driven Colorado Avalanche team, but also a St. Louis Blues team still running off of last year’s adrenaline. That said, the Stars are bouncing back after a catastrophic 1-7-1 start to the campaign, enjoying five wins in their last six games.

After persistent doubts about their top-end talent, last year and the start of this year have proven that the Habs have the top-six horses to run alongside the biggest lines in the NHL. They’ve seen off Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, they’ve fended off Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, can they now make Jamie Benn and company go down?