In what has becoming a surprising struggle for offense so far this season, the Dallas Stars are trying to tweak some of their special teams in order find the elusive goals against the Columbus Blue Jackets as the two teams finish up their season series (yes, on Nov. 1) tonight in Ohio.
One of the more interesting things the Stars worked on this morning was the power play, which has had its issues in the past several games at both scoring and preventing goals. The second unit has looked more effective at times (especially because the first unit seems intent on setting up a Seguin one-timer), but tonight some of the skill players are more scattered.
Special teams for Stars this morning:
PP1: Seguin-Klingberg-Ja. Benn-Eaves-Roussel
PP2: Jo Benn-Hamhuis-Spezza-Shore-Hudler
— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) November 1, 2016
Spezza on the second unit is a look we haven't seen much, but it would appear to give him the opportunity to run the passing plays and, perhaps, break up some of the miscommunications that have been happening between him and Klingberg in play design. Devin Shore has also worked his way onto the special teams unit - guesses are he would be at the net front in a Patrick Eaves-like role, but it will be curious to see since he's also shown strong flashes as a passer.
The most certain thing about the starting lineup appears to be Antti Niemi, who left the ice first. The rest is more of a projection, but a reasonable one with four top-six (at least potentially) forwards still on the shelf.
Stars projected lineup tonight vs. Columbus. As always, just a projection. Lindy Ruff doesn't send me a copy.pic.twitter.com/EUsWFF3o2I
— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) November 1, 2016
There has been a little bit of buzz about Jamie Oleksiak being scratched again, which would be his seventh healthy scratch of the season. This is a similar situation to last season, and if it continues, you'd have to think the long-term writing is on the wall for his future with the organization.
In good news on the injury front, Patrick Sharp and Cody Eakin both look like they may have return dates in the somewhat near future. Sharp (concussion-like symptoms) started working out last weekend, though his return will depend on how his symptoms respond, and Eakin (knee) has started light skating and is somewhere around 2-3 weeks from returning.
Not only would those two players bring a slightly more veteran (and scoring-oriented) look to the forward unit, but they also would shore up special teams as well. Like we talked about when all of the injuries hit at once - if this team can survive until just before Thanksgiving by treading water, they should have more bullets in the gun at that point. But the first part of that equation isn't a given, as evidenced by their recent play.
A functional power play would definitely help matters. Time will tell if these new looks will help in that regard.