With the mess of an 8-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks directly in their rearview mirror, it's no surprise the Dallas Stars are changing things up for their game against the Calgary Flames.
The Stars ran the following lines out at their morning skate on Monday, bouncing several players around as the team desperately tries to break out of its offensive slump. Dallas has scored just three goals in its past four games, being shut out by Nashville and getting one apiece against Phoenix, Anaheim and Chicago.
Yes, the team probably should have had two against the Ducks and Hawks if not for a couple dubious calls (not that the one late against the Hawks mattered all that much). But the lack of offensive production is absolutely concerning at this point.
So here's the plan on how they're trying to fix it, at least for tonight.
Stars lines at skate look something like this: Whitney-Benn-Eriksson. Morrow-Roy-Cole. Smith-Eakin-Jagr. Nystrom-Fiddler-Roussel.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) March 18, 2013
The biggest news here is obviously Jaromir Jagr sliding down to the "third" line. I put that in quotes because the Stars have not used a traditional third line this year that consists of checkers playing against some of the other team's top forwards. Cody Eakin and Reilly Smith play significant minutes on the power play, and both get a decent amount of relatively protected offensive minutes. I'm not sure I expect this trio to stay together long term since I'm not sure the style of Eakin and Smith is that compatible with Jagr, but I can understand the logic of it for the moment.
The bigger move to me is moving Jamie Benn to play with with Loui Eriksson and Ray Whitney. Eriksson has always been the Stars catchall "put with the guy who is struggling in his own end" player, and Whitney has been creating a multitude of chances since he returned from his broken foot three games ago. Benn has been struggling on both ends of the rink recently, and it appears the team is trying to give him the best linemates possible to break out of that rut.
That leaves Brenden Morrow with Derek Roy and Erik Cole. This seems to be a net-crash oriented type of group, with Morrow being the prototypical "set up three inches outside the crease" player and Cole being a guy who has shown his ability to move the puck to the net with his skating. Again, with the lack of offense from this team over the past four games, I understand loading up a line like this to try and force play at the net.
On the defensive front, Stephane Robidas missed the morning skate while Aaron Rome participated and took Robidas' usual spot alongside Brenden Dillon. However, Robidas is expected to play tonight. Rome is still officially on injured reserve with a broken foot, and the Stars will need to make a move to clear roster space before he can be activated.
Heika reports that Robidas is fine and will be in the lineup tonight. Jamie Oleksiak will be the scratch as Philip Larsen re-enters the lineup.
It doesn't look like a starting goalie has officially been named yet, but I'd put my money on Kari Lehtonen after he got pulled against the Blackhawks.