The Dallas Stars have had a rocky home swing. An overtime loss. A win their head coach didn't exactly care for, and he let everyone know. Then a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night in which they surrendered a 4-0 lead a half of a game in despite some long missed faced rejoining the festivities.
Coach Ruff was no less forthright on that subject after the disappointing result-
"We have to win games," he said simply. "Those players that are coming in have to be ready. If you don't have your best game going and play your best defense, don't get caught on the wrong side and make high-risk plays. If you don't have the legs or the hands you dummy down the game and make sure you keep the game in front of you."
He tinkered, as he is wont to do, to find the guys who had the most going Saturday night but it wasn't enough as the hockey gods delivered one cruelty after another.
The balance is a team that has dropped 12 of its first 19 games, now facing an important division matchup against the Minnesota Wild this evening in the homestand's conclusion.
Injury woes continue for the Stars- Johnny Oduya left the ice in the second period Saturday, returned, and then was placed on injured reserve Sunday. He'll be unavailable for at least a week. In his stead the Stars have recalled Esa Lindell, and more interestingly, Julius Honka.
Dallas doesn't need that many defensemen, but Honka could fill a role Ruff acknowledges isn't quite up to snuff currently.
"I thought our defensemen didn't move the puck very well, didn't get us the outs," he said of their inability to transition cleanly from the defensive zone. "We got some D that are really struggling."
So the intrigue continues, and we'll look for word out of morning skate with much anticipation.
Of Kari Lehtonen's extraction Saturday, he said only that they wanted to get Antti Niemi some playing time. A starter for this evening, therefore, remains a bit of a mystery.
The Avalanche got lucky and caught the Wild without Zach Parise (illness) on Saturday night. The Stars will find no such luck- He practiced Sunday and should be OK to return this evening.
Minnesota went up 2-0 on the Avs after two periods at home Saturday night- Then watched it all fade away as Colorado took a 3-2 win. Devan Dubnyk had a 156 minute shutout streak snapped in the stunning third period collapse.
Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the Stars' opponent this evening has struggled to score goals. In their last eight games they've potted 2, 1, 0, 2, 2, 4, 0 and 1. Contrast that 1.5 goals per game with their first nine outings in which they tallied 3.56 per contest.
Which offense will the Dallas Stars see tonight? Which one will they allow?
Minnesota has topped 40 shots three times in their last six outings- So that low shooting percrentage is bound to course-correct a bit. They've been unlucky and on the other side of the puck have given up six power play goals in their last seven games. Things are bound to change. Hope it's not tonight.
From Stars PR:
WILD N' OUT
The Dallas Stars take on the Minnesota Wild on Monday night in the second of five meetings during the 2016-17 regular season. Minnesota shut out Dallas, 4-0, in the first meeting of the season on Oct. 29 at Xcel Energy Center. Last season, the Stars went 1-1-0 against the Wild in Dallas and have recorded points in 25 of 29 games (22-4-3) on home ice against Minnesota since moving into American Airlines Center for the 2001-02 season. In the most recent meeting in Dallas during the regular season on Jan. 9, 2016, the Wild defeated the Stars, 2-1. Stars captain Jamie Benn recorded the lone goal (1-0=1) for Dallas, forwards Patrick Sharp (0-1=1) and Jason Spezza (0-1=1) each registered assists with goaltender Antti Niemi stopping 23-of-25 shots on goal.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves potted a goal (1-0=1) against Edmonton on Saturday night and now has goals in five-consecutive games (6-1=7) and 11 points (8-3=11) over his 11 games in the month of November. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Eaves' eight goals in the month of November is tied for the most in the NHL (others: Sidney Crosby, Marian Hossa and Nikita Kucherov). The forward's five-game goal streak is the longest of his NHL career and is the longest active goal streak in the NHL, along with the second-longest active point streak (longest: Daniel Sedin, 8 games, 9 points). His current streak marks his longest point streak since last season, when he recorded points in five consecutive games (4-4=8) from Feb. 4 - 13, 2016. He is tied for second on the club with 15 points (9-6=15) in 18 games this season, while sharing seventh in the NHL in goals (9) and tied for second in the League in power play goals (5). The native of Calgary, Alta. has skated in seven games against the Wild as a member of the Stars and has recorded three points (1-2=3). Over his NHL career, the forward has posted 12 points (5-7=12) in 21 contests against Minnesota.