It’s time for another Dallas Stars hockey contest. Please, hold your excitement for the end.
At least, if that end is effectively sometime in the first 60 minutes. Evidence suggests that if it isn’t, well...
"Our D just got flat-out out-muscled," head coach Lindy Ruff opined after yet another failure beyond the 60 minute mark Saturday night against the Washington Capitals. John Klingberg could be said to have coasted into his netminder as much as he was pushed, replays showed.
That took him(self) out of the play to defend the man in front, and compounded it with interfering with Kari Lehtonen in the process. Double-whammy.
Not unlike Radek Faksa, who will miss time after injury in the effort, and Jamie Benn, who suffered a broken nose for his considerable troubles without a win to show. Double-whammy.
The Stars sit third from the bottom in the Western Conference, bringing up the rear in a gaggle of teams hoping to grab a few extra games in April in the second wildcard spot. They need to jump Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Calgary to put themselves in that spot.
And they’ve precious little time to do it- but it’s a good time. The first game of the home-stand was a disappointment after a 3-1 lead was built but the final three games are surrounded by seven off days- Practice days. It’s time to get it together, if they can.
Tonight they meet a familiar foe- One that also vanquished them in that extra frame- The Minnesota Wild, who have usurped the Stars’ role of a season ago: The top seed in the Western Conference, and a big surprise to everyone in so being.
The Wild, it suffices to say, have excelled this season. They have excelled against the Stars, against the league as a whole, and have been rewarded for it- And they take a loss as hard as any as a result- Losses like their last outing against the Preds who hunt them-
“When we make mistakes at crucial times, I mean, that’s why we lost both games this week,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It’s because we make dumb mistakes in the third period and it cost us.”
Minnesota started fast, pulling ahead 2-0 just 7:31 into the game. Granlund scored his 11th just over two minutes in and Pominville added his seventh five minutes later.
But seven games in 10 days appeared to catch up with the Wild in the second as Nashville outshot Minnesota 10-4 in the period and controlled the puck effectively.
“I don’t want to use that as an excuse,” Boudreau said of his team’s fatigue. “I looked and only one forward played more than 20 minutes. When we have other guys in the lineup they’ve got to play. To me it’s as simple as that.” [Fox Sports]
The Wild dictate play. They don’t have it dictated to them. Witness their penalty kill, which does not take center stage often. It doesn’t need to. Because they have the puck more often than not. The last time the Wild had to take the ice for four penalty kills? December 24th.
They’ve kept it to three or less, and usually two or less, for the remainder. Meaning the offensively challenged Stars will have to earn their prospective keep at even-strength. Special teams doesn’t suit them anyhow...
The Wild lineup or thereabouts:
Jonas Brodin suffered a fractured finger recently and should be out, the Wild have recalled Mike Reilly from their AHL affiliate as they've often done this year for the extra body on the road. He's played in 11 games.
From Stars PR:
NICE AND EAVESY
Forward Patrick Eaves recorded a team-best two points (1-1=2) on Saturday night against the Capitals and now has six points (3-3=6) over his last six games. He notched his sixth multi-point game of the season against Washington, tying the most multi-point games he's recorded during an NHL season (other: 2006-07 with Ottawa). The forward has 29 points (12-27=29) in 47 games, ranking first on the club in goals (17) and third in points (29). His 29 points this season are tied for second-most points he's recorded in a single season (other: 29 points in 2005-06 with Ottawa). Additionally, Eaves shares fourth in the NHL and leads the club with career-high nine power play goals. The native of Calgary, Alta. has three points (1-2=3) over his last four games against the Wild. Over his NHL career, Eaves has skated 23 games against Minnesota and has posted 13 points (5-8=13).
TYLER SEGUIN'S HOUSE OF PAYNE
Forward Tyler Seguin notched an assist (0-1=1) against Washington on Saturday and has points in three of his last five games (1-3=4). The forward has a two-game point streak on home ice (1-2=3) with points in six of his last seven games (5-4=9) at American Airlines Center. Seguin leads the club with 23 points (7-16=23) in 24 home games and shares 11th in the NHL in points this season on home ice. The forward shares eighth in the NHL with 45 points (16-29=45) in 48 games this season and is tied for ninth in the League with 29 assists. Among League leaders, the forward ranks fourth in shots (172), shares sixth in power play points (18) and is tied for 14th in power play goals (7). The native of Brampton, Ont. has a two-game point streak against the Wild (1-2=3) with points in eight of his last 10 games against them (5-9=14). Since joining the Stars prior to the 2013-14 campaign, Seguin's 19 points (6-13=19) are the most by any NHL player against the Wild over that span. Seguin has 20 points (6-14=20) in 18 career games against the Wild.