The Dallas Stars treated their fans to consecutive wins at home for the first time with a 5-4 decision over the Los Angeles Kings Saturday night- But they were not pleased. Least of all their coach.
"I think we can [build on the two wins] but we have to be better," he said sternly afterward. "It's really hard to stand here and talk about how we played so well for almost forty minutes. We've got some guys that have to grab hold of moments in a game and be able to change it."
Dallas built a 4-0 lead through the early stages of the second period and then nearly gave it all back, surviving 41 Kings shots thanks to a third-period power play goal by newcomer Jason Demers.
The Stars have 13 losses this season, peppered by four two-game win streaks. Their next chance to get it to three in a row for the first time this year comes against the Edmonton Oilers tonight, who bring with them plenty of baggage to match Dallas', including five straight losses at home prior to the trip.
Dallas fared well against the Oilers last year, going 2-0-1 and out-scoring them 10-5 in the process. The puck drops just after 7:30pm CST tonight on Fox Sports Southwest, or better yet, come on down to the AAC.
Jason Demers impressed in his debut, even if the metrics weren't pretty, and John Klingberg is proving, at least so far, to be an absolute game changer. So that just leaves the matter of what to do on that third pairing.
Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka saw eight first periods shifts- Then just nine the entire rest of the game. Oleksiak did not see the ice in the game's final 5:30. So might Jordie Benn squeeze his way back in? Lindy Ruff seemed doubtful at Monday's practice
"Right now, I'm going to create some pressure where if the team is winning and you're out, you're going to be staying out," Ruff told the Dallas Morning News yesterday. "That'll get the incentive for the guys who are in there to play well. I get the sense when they're rotating, they think ‘Oh next game I'm out anyway.' So I'm going to go in a different direction with that."
So it sounds like status quo on defense.
On the other end it sounds as if Ryan Garbutt could make his return, as Curtis McKenzie was sent back to the Texas Stars yesterday afternoon. We'll update after morning skate. The Stars ran these lines at practice:
There would seem little reason that Kari Lehtonen would not be back in the Dallas net this evening.
From Stars PR:
ALES IN WONDERLAND
Forward Ales Hemsky recorded one assist on Saturday night and now has four helpers in his last five games and five points (0-5=5) this season. With the assist, Hemsky is now one point away from the 500th of his NHL career (146-353=499).
The Stars had the Hurricanes in their building. They had them down early. They were a desperate team with nothing to lose- But nevertheless, a team the Stars need to beat if they're to get where they think they should.
Dallas let them off the mat in a big way, as you know. Here it is again. Here come the Oilers. Losers of 15 of their first 21 games this season, including six straight and 10 of their last 12.
Will the Stars get it right this time?
Edmonton is hurting. They were absolutely rocked by the Blackhawks on Saturday night to the tune of 7-1, though were only out-shot 30-25. They lost every night in a five-game home stand and now must swing though Dallas, Nashville and St. Louis.
Just six points behind the Stars, their beat-writers are looking for "Potential Oilers trade options with team in tailspin." The coach is under fire, the goaltending is under scrutiny, and as always, a talented group of forwards on paper are underachieving.
Yesterday they fired goaltending coach Frederic Chabot- So there's a minor shakeup that will certainly touch the locker room.
Are they that bad? Their PDO (save percentage plus shooting percentage) is quite low, at 95.99- So they're due for some good luck. They start in the offensive zone 52.34% of the time, which is 6th in the league, so they're pushing play forward. Their possession numbers are neither horrendous nor stupendous- They possess the puck greater than 50% of the time, which is where you want to be.
They've frequently reached 30 shots over the last several weeks, including 52 on the road in... well, OK it was Buffalo, but you get the point.