The Colorado Avalanche have reached the midpoint of their season-long eight game homestand. After handily defeating the Edmonton Oilers on November 26, they have now broken even with a 2-2 record and four games remaining before they set out on the road once again.
Monday night's opponent is a familiar one, the Dallas Stars. These two teams have already played twice in November, and will only meet up one more time the rest of the season. The Stars have hit a wall recently, going 2-6-1 in their past nine games -- a result of an offense that has struggled to light up the scoreboard in recent weeks. The exception to that rule has been the breakout of forward Jamie Benn. The 22 year old winger has 17 assists on the season -- fifth in the NHL. Waiver wire pickup Eric Nystrom is also having a solid season for the Stars with seven goals.
The real question for Dallas will be in net. Star goalie Kari Lehtonen has been placed on the Injured Reserve with a groin injury. In his place will be former Avalanche goalie Andrew Raycroft. He has had little success this season with a 0-5 record and 3.50 GAA, but will be given the opportunity to keep the Stars atop the Pacific Division, at least until Lehtonen returns.
No goalie has been announced for Colorado, but it is likely to be Semyon Varlamov. After a rough first period against Edmonton, Varlamov was very good in net stopping 31 of 33 shots faced against a very talented offense. The addition to the blue line helped, as rookie Stefan Elliott made his NHL debut and was a huge factor on both sides of the ice in the victory. Much like Kevin Shattenkirk last season, Elliott is being given his opportunity to stay in the NHL. The spotlight will once again be on the young defenseman to see if his performance against the Oilers was something he can reproduce on a consistent basis.
Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MDT