Though we are running out of things to say about the Dallas Stars big picture (just win, it's that simple), a few more words can be added to the game preview earlier today about how Dallas might go about getting the biggest win of their season and salvaging a reasonable road to the playoffs. So consider the following an addendum to the preview and the rambling of a mad man who's spending the day waiting anxiously for 7:00pm CDT while also fearing it greatly.
- Like the Ducks game on Wednesday, survive the first period. We've harped on it all year long. It's not likely to change any time soon. (Inconsistent Starts Continue to Plague Dallas Stars, Slow Starts Continue to Haunt Stars, Dallas Stars Plagued By Slow Starts). They started slow against Calgary two weeks ago and had to claw their way back from 3-0. They started the Minnesota game the same way but the Wild were so bad they couldn't take advantage of it. Philadelphia built a 2-0 lead. Chicago outplayed them in the first period before Dallas turned it on later. They trailed the Kings nearly all game long. Over and over and over again. This game tonight isn't exactly for all the marbles, but it's for most of them. Unless they want to see five Predators stacked in the neutral zone or all laying in the crease for the final 40 minutes of this game as they are wont to do when they get a lead, the Stars must, for just this once(!) dictate the play and score first.
- Kari Lehtonen must have help with his rebounds. It's too late in the year to hope that the pucks will stop exploding off his pads and into the slot, but there's still time to pay extra attention to cleaning up the mess. Last time they played the Preds BOTH Nashville goals came from rebounds the Stars couldn't beat them to.
- On the home stand Brenden Morrow went scoreless in five of the seven home games, had just three points and recorded a grand totals of 12 shots on goal - This all while Jamie Benn joined that line for much of the seven game stretch and should have increased productivity. You can never question the Captain's heart or his determination but the effectiveness hasn't been there lately. The Stars need their captain to lead them on the scoreboard as well as everywhere else.
- Brad Richards has six points in his last six games. Sounds like he's back, right? He's getting there, but the Stars need their All-Star to be an All-Star and he's not quite back up to that speed yet, particularly on the power play where he has just one secondary assist since returning to play (7 games). His faceoff percentage in those games is 44.7%, WELL below his average and his line has not been the scoring threat it needs to be to provide Jamie Benn relief from defensive attention.
- The above two points are to say that the Stars need balance. If, to borrow a cliche, their best players ARE their best players then they have too many for a team to contain all game long. The Jamie Benn show ran out of steam (a little) toward the end of the home stand. A balanced scoring attack can help them there. Jamie Benn dragged the whole team back into the race on that last road trip. It's time for him to receive some help.
- Counter attack quickly without hesitation. Nashville was unhappy with their win over the Ducks and will be defensive minded. Counter punching in transition (immediately!) might be the only way to generate meaningful scoring chances and draw penalties. On the flip side, a patient game from Nashville today will mean a similar strategy is in play on the other side. Dallas must keep their mistakes to a minimum, keep the tempers down, minimize frustration and play a patient, clean game.
- Most of all, unlike early against Anaheim, show some desperation. There's no point in dying with any bullets left in your gun. Leave it all out there.