A season of strange juxtaposition for the Dallas Stars continues tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. Offense was supposed to be easy to come by. It was supposed to be a frantic race to five every night. Instead, the goaltending has been better and the goals have dried up.
See the latest outing Tuesday- The Stars flat out-played the Blues for 60 minutes, but suffered a loss in overtime for their pains. Two goals just doesn't get it done.
"Our top guys had two or three great opportunities but didn't put it away," Lindy Ruff opined at practice. "If you want to change the story, it's going to have to be on a consistent basis that those players get on the board for us."
These were expected to be marquee matchups- The Stars and the Kings. One team has held up their end of the bargain, including spanking Nashville by a score of 4-0 last night - All even strength goals, impressively. The other team is the Stars, which doesn't see four goals very often.
"If a little bit of puck luck had went our way..." Ruff mused Tuesday night. "We hit a couple of posts and a crossbar. Obviously we had the better chances and we didn’t give up a lot. Besides the one play at the side of the net in the third period we hadn’t given up much. We let them hang around and it hurt us."
The Kings have already enjoyed Dallas' hospitality once this season, taking the full two points in one of the Stars' famous overtime bids on October 20th. The Stars marched to the penalty box with regularity that evening, affording L.A. with six power play chances on the night spread across over 11 minutes.
More notably, the Kings doubled the Stars up on shots with a 39-20 advantage that night- Merely reaching overtime was a generosity first, and a testament to Kari Lehtonen's effort second.
The Kings are 1-3-1 on second halves of back-to-backs this season. Of course, St. Louis was on a back-to-back Tuesday, as well, but escaped with the full two. The Kings b2b victory this season? A 1-0 shutout of the defending Cup champs in Pittsburgh one week ago tonight.
They're starting to look like themselves- Meaning that they don't give anything up. Quick or no Quick. Bad news for a team that cannot score to save its life or its season. The Kings, in their last seven games, have surrendered 0, 2, 1, 0, 1, 6, and 1 goals. One of those things was not like the other- The others show consistency and should scare you, and the Stars' coaching staff.
Peter Budaj has done a nice job in Quick's absence, and Jeff Zatkoff has as well- And could be called upon tonight in a back-to-back, we'll see- But it speaks to what's been speculated for a long time. Jon Quick is great, but when the Kings are on their considerable possession game it might not matter who's back there anyway. Certainly seems to be the case currently.
The considerable Kings' complement-
Antoine Roussel left Stars practice Thursday with an undisclosed injury and may not play this evening. Johnny Oduya's fate is similarly up in the air as he continues to nurse a lingering injury. Stephen Johns did not practice either, and though Patrick Sharp did he is not ready for a return
So plenty to speculate on with Dallas' line combos. Patrick Eaves did not practice either, but that's because he has the best job in sports to go with his best beard in the world- Lead an NHL team in scoring, don't practice. He is currently the best, and should get all the maintenance days he likes.
Check back after morning skate and we'll see if Kari Lehtonen might get his first game actions since December 11th.
From Stars PR:
The Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings meet on Friday night for the second of three games during the 2016-17 regular season. In the first game of the season on Oct. 20 at American Airlines Center, the Kings defeated the Stars in overtime, 4-3. Forwards Tyler Seguin (0-2=2) and Jason Spezza (1-1=2) each recorded multi-point games for the Stars. Captain Jamie Benn (1-0=1) and forward Radek Faksa (1-0=1) each added goals for Dallas. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen collected the point in overtime, stopping 35-of-39 shots faced. On special teams, the Stars went 1-for-4 (25.0%) and stopped 5-of-6 (83.3%) of the Kings' opportunities on the man-advantage. Among active roster Stars skaters, Jamie Benn leads the club with 28 points (12-16=28) against Los Angeles.
NICE AND EAVESY
Stars forward Patrick Eaves potted a power play goal (1-0=1) on Tuesday night against the Blues and now has a team-high 12 goals this season. With his tally against St. Louis, Eaves now has surpassed his goal total from last season (11). He is two goals away from tying his single season best in a Stars uniform, when he potted 14 goals in his first year with the club in 2014-15. The forward ranks third on the team with 20 points (12-8=20) this season and shares ninth in the NHL with six power plays goals. Additionally, he shares second on the club with 78 shots on goal and ranks sixth with 12 takeaways. The native of Calgary, Alta. has five points (1-4=5) in 16 career games against the Los Angeles Kings.
I JUST CAN'T WAIT TO BE KLING
Defenseman John Klingberg notched an assist (0-1=1) against St. Louis on Tuesday and now has assists in two consecutive contests (0-2=2). The blueliner leads the club with 22:47 time on ice and ranks first among team defensemen with 16 points (2-14=16) in 32 games this season. Additionally, he ranks third overall on the club in assists (14). In the first game of the season against Los Angeles on Oct. 20 at American Airlines Center, he notched an assist (0-1=1). Klingberg now has points in both career games against the Kings on home ice (1-2=3). The native of Gothenburg, Sweden has skated in five career games against the Kings and has recorded three points (1-2=3).