The Dallas Stars continue to run into teams with hot hands. None were going better than the New York Rangers when they came. We detailed the Blue Jackets and their many triumphs of late. Nashville is, for whatever reason, unflappable.
Now the Colorado Avalanche, and no one in the West has more victories in their last ten games (7). There are, it seems, no breaks in this schedule for Lindy Ruff's bunch- But the Stars will keep the focus inward.
The number of shots they're taking, for instance. Just 26 against Columbus. Just 20 against the Predators. They've collected three wins when held to 26 or fewer shots versus nine losses. More rubber on the opposition, they feel, would be ideal.
"To a man, if you asked them what was wrong, they would say it was on us," Ruff said of his team on Friday concerning the latest loss. "It wasn't good enough. What I'm trying to stress is to ramp up the number of shots."
Colorado has one of the worst shot differentials in the league, so the Stars should get some chances- But they're up to their old 2013-2014 tricks where watching their goaltender get pummelled somehow equates to wins. They've won their last two despite getting outshot 38-21 boy Ottawa and 54-24(!) by Chicago.
So like Bobrovsky, like Lundqvist, like Pekka Rinne on Thursday, the Stars face a goaltender that's going to give his team a chance to win the game no matter how they play- Something the Stars need more of themselves if they're to make their playoff dreams a reality.
The Avs have won seven of their last 10 games. They have points in 10 of their last 13. They have, after losing 14 of 22 to start the season, climbed the mountain and stand a game over.500 at last, just a point behind these Stars who fancied themselves quite ascendant until this three-game losing streak.
In fact Colorado has even leap-frogged Minnesota. Eight points now separate 5th from 12th in the Western Conference, and the Stars have quite a dog fight on their hands with the teams down in the mud with them, to say nothing of the teams they're trying to catch.
Needless to say, this is a pretty big game. An early afternoon game, at that, on Fox Sports Southwest PLUS due to the Mavs taking on the Clippers slightly later in the afternoon.
A possible lineup:
It's a lineup absolutely overflowing with noted Star-killers in Duchene, Tanguay, Duchene, O'Reilly, Iginla and Duchene. And oh yeah, Nate Mackinnon could see time on their third line, allowing Roy to luxuriously spread elite threats throughout his deployments at home. Danny Briere owns a 16% career shooting percentage against the Dallas Stars.
The Stars were forced to split Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin in Nashville Thursday night just to see the team barely scrape up 20 shots on goal. Spezza fell with Benn, while Cody Eakin and Ales Hemsky were moved around in different ways- It wound up working, to an extent, and having all of those weapons was something Nashville had to ackniwledge in some small way, but they still had trouble generating on the road.
They practiced Friday, though Erik Cole did not for a maintenance day.
The Avs have a few minor injuries, though nothing all that prohibitive (Patrick Bordeleau (knee), Jamie McGinn (back), Ben Street (hand), Ryan Wilson (shoulder) and Jesse Winchester (concussion) are out.)
From Stars PR:
"POURING LIKE AN AVALANCHE, COMING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN"
Dallas heads to Colorado on Saturday in the second of five contests scheduled against the Central Division rival Avalanche scheduled for the 2014-15 regular season. The Stars dropped a 5-2 decision in the first meeting with Colorado on Nov. 29 at Pepsi Center. Forwards Cody Eakin and Patrick Eaves scored goals for Dallas, while goaltender Anders Lindback matched a career-high with 42 saves in the game. Forward Tyler Seguin posted an assist in the contest and now has earned three points (1-2=3) in his last two games against the Avalanche. Seguin comes into Saturday's contest with nine career points (4-5=9) against Colorado, all of which have come in his last six games against them.