The Dallas Stars have not been successful on the second night of back-to-backs spanning multiple coaching staffs, general managers, divisions, team captains, color schemes, and pretty much any other measurement of the passing of time you could name.
So when they failed the test in Denver Saturday night after an emotional Friday at the American Airlines Center, it did not come as a huge surprise. The lines were a mess. There was no time to practice. Four of the top-nine forwards were missing.
It was what it was.
But now the "post-injury" era truly starts. You know the one I mean. When the Stars acquired Jason Spezza to one-two punch with Tyler Seguin it was said to be for just such a situation as they face tonight: A multi-pronged, threatening attack on the road.
With Tyler Seguin out for as many as six weeks (hello April) Dallas is down to "a first and three thirds" like last year, and with so much ground to make up after the Wild have stormed past them- And Calgary and Winnipeg continue their unlikely runs.
This is how they might try to do it this evening:
Ales Hemsky remains out. Patrick Eaves is on IR. Tyler Seguin sits at home in a brace immobilizing his knee.
Antoine Roussel returns, however, and the defense has maintained a pretty high-level of health. They practiced thusly Monday:
Patrik Nemeth continues to inch his way back, slowly. Schlemko could be the healthy scratch once again.
Jhonas Enroth was serviceable in a tough spot (welcome to being a Stars backup) Saturday but it seems likely that Kari Lehtonen will get the start against a division rival in the Blues. The stars have just four back-to-backs remaining, so it will be interesting to see how Enroth is utilized.
The Blues have 18 more points than the Stars in the same number of games and are, predictably, rolling. They've won 15 of their last 18 games since losing their way briefly in December, including a loss to Dallas on the 27th.
They've lost at home in regulation just once since then- An understandable lapse against the Chicago Blackhawks. Other that they've been perfect in St. Louis. Against Tampa Bay. Nashville. San Jose. Colorado. They're tough to beat in front of their own crowd.
They've bested 32 shots in 10 of their last 12, and put 35 on Nashville, 40 on Washington, 44 on Tampa Bay, and 36 on Arizona- So they'll possess the puck on you if you let them.
Their lineup, or something like it:
Tarasenko leads them with 55 points in 56 games- 29 goals already, too many on the Stars as you well know. Steen and Schwartz are right behind him with 48 and 44 points, respectively. David Backes and Kevin Shattenkirk have also broken the 40-point plateau.
It is that against which Lindy Ruff's bunch must start their new life without Tyler Seguin. The Dallas Stars have 26 games remaining to earn somewhere around 35 points. Or maybe more.
It's a story we've told every year for the last six- And isn't going to be any easier this season. Let's see what they can do against these newly updated odds.
From Stars PR:
Stars captain Jamie Benn tallied a primary assist on Saturday night in Colorado to extend his current point streak to three games (3-1=4). The captain has now scored six goals and posted 11 points (6-5=11) in his last 10 games, and has 15 points (7-8=15) over his last 13 contests. Benn currently shares 17th in the NHL and ranks second on the Stars with 51 points (19-32=51) this season. Benn also shares first on Dallas, while he's tied for 16th in the League, with 32 assists in 56 games. The Victoria, B.C. native has tallied one assist against the Blues this season, and comes into Tuesday's matchup with points in two of his last three games against them (0-3=3) and has posted seven points (2-5=7) over his last seven against St. Louis.