Stars excited about big crowd, Bruins

DALLAS -- It's New Year's Eve, the defending Stanley Cup champions are in town and a big crowd is expected at American Airlines Center.

"These are the games you really want to play in," said Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who won't allow a wonky left knee to keep him from lacing up the skates tonight.

Morrow admitted that he and others probably took the large crowds that used to fill AAC (and Reunion Arena before that) for granted.

"When there are this many fans here, you want to play well and you want to get them back," Morrow said. "If we win the game, that leaves a long-term memory for fans or a highlight-reel goal. So you want to play well in this one."

Boston is tied for third in the NHL in points (second in the East), but are first in points percentage. They are at or near the top most of the key offensive and defensive categories. For example, they are first in goals scored (3.47), first in goals against (1.85), first in goal differential (+1.62 per game...second place is Detroit at +1.00).

Tim Thomas will start in nets for the Bruins and is the defending Vezina Trophy winner. He's got a 1.84 goals against average, third in the NHL, and is second in save percentage at .943.

"I look at that team and the funny thing is -- and I don't mean anything by this -- they don't do anything special, but they do everything really well," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "To find a weakness on our scouting report paper, we had to make one up this morning. They are a solid team. You look at the goals against, penalty kill, 5-on-5 game, team toughness and team speed, they have everything. That's why they won last year. It's a really good measure for us as a team that's trying to develop an identity."