With the returns of Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza and Cody Eakin, the narrative of the Dallas Stars' season has started to turn back where many thought it would be- A young defense after the departures of Goligoski and Demers.
Nothing highlights that better, of course, then Julius Honka coming into the lineup Monday while John Klingberg sat out- And head coach Lindy Ruff was asked what he thought about his inexperienced lineup's performance.
"I thought they played very well," he said after the win. "I don’t think we gave up a chance in the first period. I thought our puck movement, our play coming through the neutral zone, was probably as good as it’s been all year. I really liked what they all did and it was simple and effective. They got back and moved it quick, they found their outlets."
So will John Klingberg draw back in?
"In the past when we've won a game I don't change the lineup," Lindy Ruff reminded media Tuesday. "It's something that I am going to mull over."
With some media types speculating that there's "no way they can send Honka back" after his performance Monday night, Johnny Oduya coming back in a few days, and the log jam that is Stephen Johns, Esa Lindell, Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth otherwise- The Stars have some interesting decisions to make in the coming week.
News out of practice Tuesday was that lines looked the same, as you'd expect after the win. Patrick Eaves took his usual maintenance day. Jiri Hudler was said to be on skates at some point during the day- A positive sign on that front.
Also noteworthy was this one from Mr. Stepneski-
Can't give you a definite answer. Ruff said yesterday he hopes it is only three games, which would be about one week. That's all I have. https://t.co/epCAY8c0Qr— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) November 22, 2016
The Predators, meanwhile, should scare you.
They got off to a 2-5-1 start, including a loss to the Stars on October 18th. That was pretty neat. Since then it's been a different story, as they've earned points in eight of their last ten (6-2-2) and have really tightened things up in the goals against department.
Subtract one sour outing against the Maple Leafs (of all teams) in which they allowed six, and they've seen the opposition score just 12 times in the other nine games of the streak. That's 1.33 per game against. It's obscene, and it's thanks to their MVP Pekka Rinne.
Also good in that ten game stretch? Their PK, which has allowed a single tally over the stretch in 33 kills. 32 of 33! Unreal. And their home penalty kill percentage is 100%, which people tell me is pretty good.
They've been nails at home, too- To the tune of 6-1-1. The only regulation loss? To these Dallas Stars as Ruff's bunch took it to them with a 37-28 shot advantage. That feels like some time ago, of course, and both teams have done a lot of soul searching since.
P.K. Subban gets the headlines in Nahsville, of course- He's scored seven points in his last seven games including a pair of tallies against the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night.
Injured: Miikka Salomaki on IR with a hand injury.
From Stars PR:
TO CATCH A PREDATOR
The Dallas Stars travel to the Music City to take on the Nashville Predators in the second of five meetings during the 2016-17 campaign. In the first meeting of the 2016-17 campaign on Oct. 18 at Bridgestone Arena, the Stars defeated the Predators, 2-1, for the club's third consecutive victory (3-0-0) against their Central Division rival. Forward Jason Spezza (1-0=1) notched the game-winning goal in the third period, and goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 27-of-28 shots to lead the Stars to the victory over Nashville. Last season against the Predators, Dallas went 4-1-0 with a record of 1-1-0 in Nashville and won four games against Nashville in a single season for the first time since 2000-01. Forward Patrick Sharp leads all Stars skaters with 30 points (14-16=30) in 60 career games against the Predators.
HE'S A SPEZZ-CIAL PLAYER
Forward Jason Spezza posted an assist (0-1=1) against the Wild on Monday night and now has a three-game assist streak (0-3=3). Spezza has now recorded points in three of his four games (0-3=3) since returning to the lineup on Nov. 15 vs. New Jersey after missing the previous five contests with a lower body injury. He is tied sixth on the club with eight points (4-4=8) in 13 games this season and his four goals share fourth on the Stars. The native of Toronto, Ont. has a five-game point streak (6-2=8) against the Predators, including a two-game goal streak (2-0=2) at Bridgestone Arena and has potted a goal in three of his last four contests (3-0=3) in Nashville. Spezza has recorded nine points (7-2=9) in 10 games against the Predators with Dallas. In 19 career contests against Nashville, he has notched 21 points (11-10=21).