The NHL schedule makers handed the Dallas Stars a bit of an uncharacteristic reprieve last weekend and early this week, with only two games in a seven-day span. That should leave time for seemingly-magical-defenseman Jason Demers to try and heal whatever ails his upper body.
The downside comes quickly, though, as the Stars run into one of the top teams in the Central at the end of the week on the tail end of a back-to-back. The time to rest and recharge is now, because the rest of the division awaits at the end of the month.
Tuesday 12/8/15 - Carolina Hurricanes @ Dallas Stars
The Hurricanes are currently sitting in seventh in the Metro Division. Offensively, the Canes have really struggled. They have scored 59 goals, good for 27th in the league. Their leading scorer, Justin Faulk, has 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists). The Dallas Stars have 5 players with at least 19 points and two players with 35 points.
Carolina has not had a good season, but they are a team in the middle of a rebuild. This is exactly the kind of team that has given the Stars trouble at times this year.
Eddie Lack was acquired in the offseason to be the goaltender of the future (presumably). Unfortunately for him and the organization, he has only played in 7 games with a save percentage of 0.874 with a record of 1-4-1. Cam Ward has carried the load in net for the Canes, but he hasn't been much better.
As stated above, this is a game that the Stars have lost this year. If the Stars want the first seed in the Central Division, this is a game they should win. They need to come into the game focused and not play down to their level of competition.
Player to Watch: Justin Faulk, No. 27. The Hurricanes blue line stud has led the team in scoring, but a minus-7 looks rough. Probably just a product of his team.
Friday 12/11/15 - Philadelphia Flyers @ Dallas Stars
One of the only teams worse than the Hurricanes in the "goals for" department is the Philadelphia Flyers, who sit dead last at 30th.
The Stars will wrap up their season series with the Flyers at home, after beating them in October. That game in Philadelphia was a 2-1 affair in which the Stars were able to grind one out against the Flyers and Steve Mason.
At the time, Michael Neuvirth was on fire in net for the Flyers. The Philadelphia goalies have performed admirably as a tandem, posting a total save percentage of 0.923. The problem with Philly has been putting the puck in the net.
It is difficult to attribute the Flyers' offensive struggles to any one thing in particular. For one, the Flyers are shooting 6.3 percent with a roster that includes guys like Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds. Is 6.3% an anomaly or a trend?. The Flyers are bound for an offensive breakout, but almost a third of the way through their season, who really knows?
Player to Watch: Jakub Voracek, No. 93. His scoring is down significantly from last year. Was last year just luck? Or is Voracek going to pick it up?
Saturday 12/12/15 - Dallas Stars @ St. Louis Blues
Here it is, the next huge Central Division test for the Dallas Stars.
Dallas does not play the Blues this year in a game that isn't a part of a back-to-back. The schedule makers couldn't have known these two teams would be dueling for first in the Central, but water off the back right?
St. Louis is really good. There aren't many ways to say it. The Blues' save percentage, goals against, penalty kill, and strength of schedule are all above league average. They are essentially pretty good at everything and dominant at nothing.
Vladimir Tarasenko is proving worthy of his massive contract he received this offseason. With 14 goals and 10 assists, Tarasenko has proven that last year's breakout was no fluke. He is one of the 10 most fun players to watch in the game today.
The roster for the Blues is stacked with power and authority. They are trailing the Stars by eight points for the lead in the Central, making the head to head games all the more more important.
The schedule is what it is, there is no changing it now. Dallas will have to play a textbook road game to keep the ship afloat against some of the league's best.