Eric Tangradi will make his first start for the Pittsburgh Penguins 2011/12 campaign tonight after starting out hot with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins early this year.

Tangradi has 12 points in 12 games and is coming off of 2 goal performance in which he shushed the crowd in Norfolk after scoring an empty net goal to seal the game.

Tangradi, while still young, is reaching a rather vital point in his career. This certainly isn’t a make-or-break chance for him, but after a subpar camp, he has the opportunity to really impress the Penguins front office with a strong performance this weekend.

Tyler Kennedy and Sidney Crosby are still on the shelf for the Penguins, but the indications are that both are extremely close to returning to the lineup.

For those with a short memory, Penguins/Stars might be my favorite out-of-conference game of the year. Since 2007 after the all-star game in Dallas, these games have been testy and fast-paced.

Despite what seems like an eternity of time off, the Penguins are still tops in the Eastern Conference with 21 points. The Stars are first in the West with an 11-3 record good for 22 points. There is never a shortage of pride in the NHL, and the current standings make for a marquee match-up for the Penguins tonight.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, below you’ll find video of last year’s massacre against Dallas, as well as the 2007 match that was referenced above.

That 2007 tilt is particularly important as it really began an amazing run for the Penguins that was really the starting point to their Cup runs in the subsequent years.

2007 Shootout Win:

Last year’s massacre: