After a rare weekend off in which the Dallas Stars did a little team bonding in western Canada, the Stars will get back to work versus the Vancouver Canucks.
Last season, the Canucks appeared to be heading into a “rebuild on the fly” state as an organization. They’ve managed to get off to a 6-3-1 start this season and find themselves sitting third in the Pacific Division. It’s fun right now in Vancouver, but with one of the league’s highest PDOs (very lucky puck luck so far) and a Corsi For% that ranks in the bottom third of the league, their early success shows a team that isn’t without its flaws.
Dallas will be ready to take advantage of those. But they’ll do so without two key guys in the lineup.
Stephen Johns, who has been suffering concussion-like symptoms the last few days, will be out tonight. He did skate today, a sign that he’s heading in the right direction in terms of returning to the lineup.
Martin Hanzal, whom head coach Ken Hitchcock said yesterday may not be able to go tonight versus the Canucks, did not take part in morning skate today. That means he’s very unlikely to draw into the lineup. We can expect the lines to look something like this according to those at morning skate:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Antoine Roussel - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Gemel Smith - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Mattias Janmark - Devin Shore - Remi Elie
They’ll be running the same defensive pairings as last game. I guess Hitchcock is rolling with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra in an effort to earn half of the available points to the team on this road trip after losses to the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers.
Marc Methot - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Jamie Oleksiak - Esa Lindell
Julius Honka will ride the pine again tonight, while big Ben Bishop returns to the net. Hopefully his team doesn’t leave him hung out to dry again and will actually be able to finish the game.
What we have our eye on: With Hanzal out tonight due to injury, keep an eye on the Stars’ penalty killing units. Hanzal has been a big part of the red-hot penalty kill so far this season - he averages the second most time short handed (2:04 per game) among forwards (behind only Devin Shore at 2:13 per game). With Hanzal out, one of Benn, Faksa or Janmark could get heavier penalty kill deployments.
Fun (?) Fact: The Stars have the hottest power play right now at 32.4% (which is obviously not sustainable at this rate, but isn’t it fun while it lasts?) With the second best PK and best PP in the league right now, the Stars are really hurting themselves with their 5-on-5 play: they’re sitting at just 18th in the league in terms of points earned so far this season. If they ever get that part of their game rolling without sacrificing the special teams, they’re going to be a dangerous unit on the ice.
From Stars PR:
SO FRESH AND SO KLING KLING
Defenseman John Klingberg recorded an assist (0-1=1) against the Flames on Friday and is now riding a three-game point streak (1-3=4) and has points in four of his last five games (1-5=6). Klingberg has skated in 11 games this season and has 11 points (3-8=11), leading the Stars in assists (8) and sharing second in points (11). Among League blueliners, he shares third in points (11), fourth in goals (3) and fifth in assists (8). Additionally, Klingberg has three multi-point games this season, which is tied for the third-most among all NHL defensemen. On the road during the 2017-18 campaign, Klingberg has tallied eight points (2-6=8) in six games, which is the second-most of any NHL defenseman (most: A. Pietrangelo, nine points in eight games). The native of Gothenburg, Sweden is riding a two-game point streak against the Canucks (0-3=3). In eight career games against Vancouver, he has notched six points (1-5=6).
Broadcast Information for tonight’s game:
Radio: The Ticket (1310 AM / 96.7 FM locally, theticket.com always)
Online Stream: Fox Sports Go app (requires cable login)