Monday, November 21st, 2011, 7:30 PM CST
American Airlines Center
Opponent SB Nation Blog: The Copper & Blue
After morning skate at the American Airlines Center today the media will gather and the Dallas Stars, after nearly two years of searching, will present their new owner Tom Gaglardi to the hockey world. It's a momentous day for the franchise and a joyous occasion for Stars fans.
Unfortunately the on-ice happenings these days are not quite as cheerful. The team has lost five in a row, dropping from first in the Western Conference to 9th in that time, tied with tonight's opponent the Edmonton Oilers. Dallas has been out-scored 16-1 in their last ten periods of hockey, and broke a scoreless streak of 194 minutes in the third period against San Jose Saturday when Mike Ribeiro beat Antti Niemi.
The Oilers, in quite a contrast, enter the game having scored nine goals in their last outing against arguably the best team in the NHL this year, the Chicago Blackhawks. You'd have to scrape together every Dallas goal from their last six outings to equal that total. Edmonton snapped a four game skid with that win, however, and had lost five of their last six overall before that.
"We're in a hole, there's no question about it, and you can't just jump out of a hole this deep, you have to kind of dig your way up and dig your way out," said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. Part of the digging is a plan to start recently re-called Texas Stars Tomas Vincour and Philip Larsen tonight. We'll update after morning skate on how they might be utilized.
Dallas took three of four from the Oilers last year, including both games at American Airlines Center. Tom Gaglardi was in attendance on Saturday and is expected to be on the ice this evening for a ceremonial puck drop.
Continued discussion after the jump...
We know Dallas will shake things up with the additions of Tomas Vincour and Philip Larsen, but the question this morning is who will come out of the lineup as a result?
On defense the answer is simpler, with one of either Mark Fistric or Adam Pardy likely on their way out for a time. The two have played together and present a useful skill set with their toughness and physicality. The problem is that it is only the one skill set, and it can be a bit of a redundancy. Larsen will add a right handed shot, an improved transition game, and a skilled option on the power play where Toby Petersen has been filling in for Alex Goligoski.
Larsen had 10 points in 10 games with the Texas Stars before getting called up on the 19th.
Vincour, after struggling with Texas last year, is an off to an impressive start. He has 10 goals in 15 games with three assists as well, and he provides interesting options for Glen Gulutzan. Without further injury, the implication seems to be that he was called up to help spark the offense in a top-six type role. If that is the case, and we do not yet know that to be true, where do you put him?
The Stars began the year with a top six of:
Ott played with the Fiddler line those first couple of games. Coincidentally, Adam Burish was out then too. Could they go back to this, or does the Morrow/Ribeiro combination warrant splitting up in an attempt to spark the offense? Might then you put Morrow with Benn and Ryder and Eriksson with Ribeiro and Ryder? We'll see what the lines look like at morning skate and update.
Kari Lehtonen will be in the Dallas net. How would you insert Vincour into the Stars' lineup?
For what feels like the sixth or seventh time in a row, we are forced to point out that the Stars have an opponent on their hands with an elite power play. That's a potential problem for Dallas because they remains one of the most heavily penalized teams (3rd most minors taken in the league with 103. Flyers and Jets lead at 105).
Edmonton victimized the Blackhawks Saturday night four times (seven opportunities) on the man advantage. They're skilled, they're young, they're fast, and they'll draw calls because of it, though oddly they rank 29th in the league in shots per game at 25.6. That may mean little, however, in light of the fact that the red hot New York Rangers are last at 25.4.
If there's a silver lining to the recurring problem of the Stars taking too many penalties and a good power play coming up on the schedule, it's that the Oilers #4 power play overall at 22.4% is only successful 12.9% of the time on the road, where Edmonton is 3-5-1.
In goal the Oilers boast the ageless Nikolai Khabibulin. He carries with him the 2nd best GAA in the NHL at 1.76 and the third best save percentage at .938. He is 8-3-2 on the season including a 2-2-1 mark on the road.
Edmonton is led in scoring by Ryan Smyth, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Taylor Hall. Their lineup has resembled something like this in recent games...
That's pretty salty throughout talent-wise. The Stars have a tough task ahead of them as they try to break out of their funk tonight at 7:30pm on Fox Sports Southwest. Make sure you check in with us for our Gameday Thread as we celebrate Tom Gaglardi's arrival and root on the Stars.