Dallas Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock did not like his team’s game versus a desperate, winless Arizona Coyotes squad on Tuesday night.
“I'm not pleased with the way we played period. I don't think we played very well. From a continuity standpoint this was our weakest performance. The players and the staff know we'll have to be much better Thursday if we expect to collect two points.”
Hitchcock is going to switch up his defensive pairings in an effort to bring a different complexion to the Stars’ game tonight. After all, their opponent is a familiar one. It’s a team that was desperate to get their first win on Tuesday, and hasn’t quenched that desire now that Thursday has arrived. They are the only winless team in the league today: the Arizona Coyotes.
Jamie Oleksiak will draw back into the lineup, while Julius Honka will come out, and he’ll be paired with Marc Methot. The move will put John Klingberg and Esa Lindell back together, a pairing that has been fairly good for Dallas so far this season. The only pairing that will not change is the Dan Hamhuis-Stephen Johns pairing. In my opinion, it’s good for Johns to have that veteran partner, as he has struggled at times this season with decision making. Hopefully Hamhuis can continue to guide him a bit through it.
Ben Bishop should make his 5th start in a row for Dallas. It’s not surprising, given that he has been on fire so far this season. He’s allowed just 1.49 goals against on average, and has a save percentage of 94.4%. That puts him squarely in the top three starters in the league today. You generally don’t mess with a goaltender performing that way, and the schedule is favorable to feeding him starts with rest in between games right now.
The Stars have needed that kind of performance, too. They seemingly get a lot of good looks on opposing goaltenders but can’t seem to actually punch through as often as this team should given its offensive firepower. So when the team is only able to score twice a game, a stellar performance by your goaltender is the only way in which you’ll record some wins.
Just ask Arizona.
They’re also only scoring about two goals a game. The difference is that they’ve been without the stellar goaltending to keep them in games. Antti Raanta, their presumed starter after trading away Mike Smith in the offseason, is listed as “day-to-day” but hasn’t skated since he got injured. That left the door open to young prospect Adin Hill to make his NHL debut against the Stars on Tuesday.
The young goaltender looked good. He kept his team in the game, and made a few stellar saves on the big guns of Dallas. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for Stars fans) Bishop was better. Hill will get the chance to see if he can backstop his team to their first win of the season tonight when the Stars come to the desert.
Arizona is going to play a more desperate game than they did on Tuesday. Dallas has better be ready to match their intensity if they want to go on a winning streak of any note this early in the season. After all, the schedule only gets harder as the calendar days roll by.
Puck drop is at 9:00 PM CDT tonight, and will be shown locally on FSSW. You can also stream on the Fox Sports Go app if you’re not in front of your television tonight.