Saturday, November 26th, 2011, 7:00 PM CST
Opponent SB Nation Blog: Five For Howling
The Dallas Stars played a better game than the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, and barely escaped with what they deserved (2 points) after a last second goal to tie it up and an overtime winner. They felt they played a similarly strong game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night in front of a sell-out crowd at the American Airlines Center but fell just short of their rightful reward in a shootout.
"When it comes down to a shootout, it comes down to chance. It’s not about the team, it’s about individuals," said Eric Nystrom, scorer of two goals last night. "You take those with a grain of salt."
"The shootout is more of an individual part of the game, it’s an important part, but just more of a skill competition," added Nystrom. "The team part of the game, we really felt we played well there, and that’s what we need to keep doing."
The extreme irony of those words, however true they may be, hits home tonight as the Stars venture west to the Valley of The Sun to face the Phoenix Coyotes, whom the Stars have beaten twice already... in shootouts.
The Coyotes, for their part, enter licking (get it?) their wounds after a 5-0 shellacking at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks last night. The Associated Press is calling it an "easy shutout" for Vancouver. After the game Dave Tippett remarked "Our execution was so far below normal it wasn't even a game."
Prepare for a determined effort by an embarrassed team tonight, that got to sleep in their own beds despite a back-to-back situation. Dave Tippett will have them ready to go, whip cracked. Will the Stars finally earn their first victory on the second night of a back to back?
Continued after the jump...
Dallas had several injury scares last night with Michael Ryder leaving the period with an apparent knee tweak and Tomas Vincour going down after a vicious, blatantly obvious high elbow from Schenn that went uncalled. Both players would return to the ice, thankfully, but we'll await their status for this one tomorrow night as the team may not have a morning skate.
Here's the hit on Vincour. At least we think that's the name they're trying to say.
Should all Dallas players return healthy tomorrow night it's expected that lines will start out much the same way they did again Toronto and Los Angeles. Krys Barch would likely rotate in on the fourth line for either Dowell or Wandell.
Philip Larsen saw increased power play responsibility, including a late game situation that saw the Stars looking for the go-ahead goal with only three minutes remaining. The power play needs a good shakeup because it's not working as it late.
The Stars have not scored a power play goal in six straight games, and seven of their last eight overall. They are just one of their last nineteen chances. That's about 5%, or as my calculator said, "that's basically zero, why are you asking me this?"
Dallas is 0-4-0 on back to back starts this year, and some think Kari Lehtonen COULD get the nod tonight in Phoenix to change that up. "If that’s what happens, yes," he said on being ready. "I did a few last year."
Lehtonen was unhappy with his play after giving up three in regulation. The first two were probably where he is being critical of himself. "It’s good that we got one point, but I wasn’t happy with the way I played," said the big Finn.
Phoenix lost to Vancouver badly last night 5-0, not reaching 10 shots on goal until the dying seconds of the second period even. It was a masterful defensive performance from the defending Western Conference champs and they'll be looking to put more rubber on Kari Lehtonen/Andrew Raycroft's net tonight.
The Coyotes have alternated wins and losses in their last six games (3-3 in that span) and are due for a win if the trend is to continue. They played starter Mike Smith last night uncharacteristically where Tippett usually reserves his number one for a divisional opponent (as the Kings did on Wednesday). It's not known yet whether he'll go again, or if the Stars will see Jason Labarbera, who has give Dallas fits in the past as well.
Forward lines for Phoenix have looked something like this in recent contests...
Phoenix has the 25th ranked home power play in the league at 12.8%, one spot lower than Dallas' 13.3% home power play. Their home penalty kill percentage is a stellar 90.6%, good for fourth in the league. It'll be a tough place for Dallas to end their long power play drought.