The Dallas Stars try to improve on their conference-worst road point percentage this afternoon against the Ottawa Senators, and after a game full of shuffling Friday at home head coach Lindy Ruff shuffled things even further at practice, giving a peak at possibly separating Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
"Lindy's a guy that makes adjustments as he sees fit, whether it is in practice or in games," Seguin told Mark Stepenski yesterday. "Last game I played with Cole on my right, Whitney, Val and finished with Pevs. You've just got to go out there and do your job and trust that the guy next to you is doing his."
The Stars' lineup in practice Saturday, curiously, were these...
First -- Lindy Ruff has used lines in practice already this season, surprising ones, that he did not then deploy in game action. See the "Nichushkin with Benn/Peverley" day during a break for example.
Second -- This finally breaks up the Eakin/Whitney/Chiasson line that has been together since early in the preseason, and also splits up Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. That could be an effort to try to boost scoring on the road, which has not been plentiful.
The Stars' last three goals have been on long-range shots (Eakin in Montreal, Goligoski and Seguin against Colorado). Not exactly what most would call "scoring chances," so more consistency in quality of shots rather than quantity is needed.
The reconfiguration would seem to offer the same issues on the lower lines, however, and Erik Cole's role takes a hit, though Fiddler, Roussel and Peverley would seem to be an ideal checking line with a crystal-clear purpose.
That all being said, no one should be surprised to see Benn and Seguin back together and Whitney with Eakin again to start the game.
Kari Lehtonen will be in net. That much seems certain.
On the Senators' side things aren't much better. Ottawa has lost four straight and five of their last six overall. They surrendered 57 shots, the most in the league this season, to the Islanders in a shootout loss Friday night.
Looking at the largest number of shots allowed in a single game this season, the Senators own three of the top four marks this year. 57 shots allowed to the Islanders, 56 to the Ducks, and 50 to the Sharks.
There would appear to be opportunity there.
On the other hand, the Senators can put the puck in the net and average an even 3.00 goals per game to Dallas' 2.46. They put over 31 shots per game on their opponents.
The Senators llneup should be something like this....
Clarke MacArthur-Kyle Turris-Bobby Ryan
Milan Michalek-Zack Smith-Mika Zibanejad
Cory Conacher-Jason Spezza-Chris Neil
Colin Greening-Derek Grant-Matt Kassian
Chris Phillips-Marc Methot
Jared Cowen-Erik Karlsson
Mark Borowiecki-Eric Gryba
Patrick Wiercioch-Joe Corvo
From the Ottawa Sun on their loss last night:
The Senators didn't take a lot of solace in the loser point because their effort defensively was horrible.
"I don't know what the answer is (to turn this around)," said Lehner. "We're trying. I'm not a hockey coach. I don't know. It just feels like we're trying and we're good for five minutes and then we break down and then we have a few awful minutes.
"I don't know. It's not good enough."
The club's fourth straight loss at home came after coach Paul MacLean changed all the lines and defensive pairings.
"We had some guys start to dig in and I thought that was a good sign," said MacLean. "But enough is enough. We've got to dig in and start playing." [Ottawa Sun]
And forget not that the Senators now have noted Star-killer Bobby Ryan on their roster, and he's been quite potent in the early going with 12 points already.