Last week the Dallas Stars lost 3 of their 4 games. Each game was a different doppelganger of the team.
"What happens when the Stars have 25 PIMS?" They lose 6-5 in Brooklyn.
"What happens when the Stars are handcuffed to a rock and thrown to the bottom of the sea?" They lose 3-2 in a shootout to New Jersey.
"What happens when the Stars push the pace?" They blow out the Predators 5-1.
"What happens when the Stars assume they can win simply by showing up?" The Blue Jackets win 6-3.
Sunday was the first time the Stars have lost consecutive games this season, and one of those losses was in a shootout. In the locker room interviews after the loss Sunday evening it was easy to hear the disappointment in the tone of the players. But this was a different kind of disappointment than we have heard before, there was a tone of defiance. This team knows they are better than three of their last four results indicate.
Dallas will try to bounce back as they wrap up their east coast road trip on Tuesday night before hosting two division rivals Thursday and Saturday. Let's dive in.
Tuesday 1/5/16 - Dallas Stars @ New York Rangers
The Stars first chance at redemption comes in New York against the Rangers on Tuesday night. The Rangers sit in third in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the Islanders with a game in hand. The race in the Metro figures to be tight all year, with the Rangers right in the middle of it.
The Rangers have the league's sixth best offense, led by Mats Zuccarello. The 28 year-old has been fantastic for the Rangers, pacing the team with 31 points (16G 15A).
Henrik Lundquist has been his usual self this year, with a 0.920 save percentage entering play on Tuesday night. He has struggled in his last five starts, but will be coming off of three days rest and should be ready to go against the Stars.
Similar to Dallas, the Rangers love to activate defensemen and skate. Forwards like Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, and Rick Nash make the Rangers a fun team to watch. Tuesday night could be a track meet with some fantastic goaltending, what more could you ask for?
Thursday 1/7/16 - Winnipeg Jets @ Dallas Stars
In November the Jets visited the American Airlines Center and lost 6-3. The score looks like the game was a blowout, but the game winner was scored by Jamie Benn with just over five minutes to play in the third period, breaking the 3-3 tie. Dallas scored two empty net goals as window dressing, but make no mistake this was a close game.
The Jets outshot the Stars 38-34, but failed to convert on any of their four power plays. The Stars were 2 for 4 on the job, and was thus the difference in the game.
Winnipeg is the bottom feeder in the Central Division, but have shown that time and again they can bother Dallas with a fast and physical forecheck. The Jets are a heavy team, and their place in the standings doesn't change that.
The good news in Winnipeg was the return of Mark Scheifele on Sunday against the Ducks. His statline reflected player than had missed some action, but Jets fans will be happy to see him return.
Saturday 1/9/16 - Minnesota Wild @ Dallas Stars
The Wild haven't beaten the Stars this season, but on Saturday they will get their fourth opportunity to do so. Minnesota has one point to show for their three games against Dallas, and the losses have each been brutal in their own way.
Only three teams have surrendered less goals than Minnesota, but don't tell the Stars. Dallas has lit the lamp 13 times in three games against the Wild.
Devan Dubnyk has rebounded after a slow start to the season and has a 0.921 save percentage as of Monday. His backup Darcy Kuemper has been equally impressive, with a 0.926 save percentage in nine games played.
Minnesota has three games in hand on the Blues and Stars, and two games in hand on the Blackhawks. The Wild are three points behind the Blackhawks and Blues in the standings. If they could find a way to win a 3-on-3 overtime, they would be in a lot better shape.
Teams like the Wild and Predators represent the biggest clash of styles to the Stars. Inherently, these types of games are intriguing as both teams try to impose their will on the other. Not to mention the fact that both teams will play the Stars a combined 10 times this season, familiarity will continue to build. Will the Wild figure it out? Or have the Stars found the key to unlock the Wild defense?
So far this season, I don't think anyone can say they have figured out the Dallas Stars. Well, except for James Reimer.