The Dallas Stars kicked off February right with a 5-3 win against a Central Division opponent on the road, where they've not won since December 21st.
At a high-level it was everything the team needed to displace the bitter taste of January from its collective mouth. Analyzed at a more granular level it was probably not an outing representative of their collective potential.
Truth be told, it was kind of a mess at times.
Not how, but how many- Perhaps, but the competition stiffens tonight as they move on to a Colorado Avalanche team that has their number and then some.
When last these teams clashed in January we remarked-
"...the embodiment of danger during [Ruff's] tenure here in Dallas arrives in the form of the Colorado Avalanche.
That would be those Avalanche that have defeated the Stars in seven straight going all the way back to December of 2013. The Avalanche that have gone 10-1-0 against Dallas since Lindy Ruff and Tyler Seguin arrived on the scene."
So update that verbiage with another win and nothing else has changed. The Avs vex the Dallas Stars, no matter the circumstance.
Last month it was an absolutely absurd 43-15 shot advantage for Ruff's bunch in a loss that saw the Avs score not once, but twice shorthanded. Domination, yet defeat. Only in hockey.
Something that should change this time around, however, is the man in the Avalanche net the Stars will try to solve. Semyon Varlamov has not been with the team much of late after somehow getting to use the All-Star break to settle a civil court case brought against him. Victorious, he returns to the team but will reportedly backup this evening.
The young man he backs up is not too shabby, either- Calvin Pickard turned in a fabulous 40-save performance against the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night, picking up first-star honors on the night despite losing 2-1.
The one-goal defeat was the latest in a string of strong showings against the best the West has to offer. In their last five games the Avs have: Held the Hawks to two, defeated the Kings 4-3, defeated the Stars 3-1, and beaten the St. Louis Blues 2-1.
We said it last time and we'll say it again- They've been winning because they don't allow pucks in their net. The degree to which they've been better in that area than Dallas over the last month is eyebrow raising, at least. They're charging up those standings.
Even if they weren't- Hey, it's Dallas vs Colorado. The Stars have to find a way to break this incredible stretch of tough luck.
In particular they have to find a way to limit the quality chances against. Antti Niemi pulled their feet from the fire on a number of occasions as Jets got loose behind the defense Tuesday, and what's more- Was pretty fortunate that a few pucks found goal posts and not netting.
They found the right way to walk the line for three months to start the year. Lately the house seems to be finally evening the odds.
At any rate, Antti Niemi does seem to be the team's number-one netminder, so we'll see if Ruff and company do anything to dispel that notion over this awful stretch of schedule in February.
The Avalanche lineup of late, or something like it-
From Stars PR:
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
The Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche meet for the third of four games during the 2015-16 campaign on Thursday night at Pepsi Center with Colorado owning a 2-0-0 advantage in the season series. In their most recent meeting on Jan. 23, the Avalanche defeated the Stars, 3-1, at American Airlines Center. Stars defenseman Jason Demers tallied the club's only goal of the evening on the power play (1-0=1) during the second period. During the 2015-16 season against the Avalanche, Demers has a team-leading three points (1-2=3) in two games, including registering a two-point outing (0-2=2) in the most recent meeting at Pepsi Center on Oct. 10.
SEGS N BACON
Stars forward Tyler Seguin netted two goals (2-0=2) against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night. Seguin currently ranks third in the NHL with 55 points (27-28=55) and fourth in the League with 27 goals. He has 29 points (18-11=29) this season in 26 road contests, ranking first in goals (18) and sharing second in points (29). The native of Brampton, Ont. enters Thursday's contest with points in eight of his last 10 games (4-7=11) against the Avalanche and has tallied points in five straight games (1-4=5) played at Pepsi Center. The forward has appeared in 12 games against Colorado in his NHL career and has recorded 11 points (4-7=11).