With their new division looking quite strong out of the gate the Dallas Stars find themselves embarking on a three-game central trip needing to keep pace, starting with a Winnipeg team sure to be mad about their performance last night.
One way to go about using some of that emotion, particularly if it is "misplaced", is to make them pay on the man advantage. The problem with that, of course, is that the Stars o-for-5 on the job this year and have a single shot to show.
In fact, the exact output from the Stars power play through two games is a shot from 19 feet away by Ray Whitney, a miss by Peverley and Whitney each, and
no 6 shot attempts (oddly enough by six different players) blocked. That's all. In over nine minutes of power play time.
Those that have been here know that their 21st, 25th and 28th ranked road power plays in each of the last three seasons have contributed significantly to their playoff woes.
"I thought the second game we had a couple good looks," Ruff said of the power play on Wednesday. "We had an empty net to shoot it in off the one power play. But not enough zone time and some of that was once we got in the zone, some of the decisions we made with the puck.
So like everything else, and this will be the last time we say this, everything has probably been over-analyzed for being just a two-game sample size in a five-day break. As for their opponents on this trip, there could be some opportunity to get on the board against mediocre penalty kill competition.
Winnipeg has been short handed a league-high 20 times in four games this season, allowing 29 shots and 1.78 against per two minutes of penalty kill, which is relatively high. Officially they're 18th in the league at 81.2% having allowed three power play goals against.
On the other hand, Winnipeg has scored a power play goal in each of their four games - Underlying the importance of winning, or at least tying, the special teams battle on the road.
These were the power play units in practice Wednesday:
So they appear to be committed to a four-forward look even after the early struggles. Saturday's game against the Capitals featured a power play with two defensemen while the Stars were protecting a lead. Rich Peverley figures to get some time, and it makes the second unit stronger in pushing Cole there. Cody Eakin might be the odd man out as a result.
See you back here tonight, we hope, for our gameday discussion thread at 7:00pm CDT, because your significant other probably wants you talking to strangers on the internet about sports on a Friday night ;)
More from Defending Big D:
- Preview: Dallas Stars Get Back to Work Tonight in Winnipeg Against Jets
- Dallas Stars Daily Links: Let's Get This Show on the Road
- Globe: Dallas Stars Nearing New Television Deal with Fox Sports Southwest
- Jordie Benn Taking Big Strides Forward for the Dallas Stars
- Ruff Contemplating Moving Rich Peverley to Stars' Benn, Seguin Line