The Dallas Stars have 29 games in which to catch an elusive playoff spot, and 17 of them will be on the road. Now would be a good time to start improving their away record, which is currently an anemic 7-13-4.
Mark Stepneski takes a look at the areas in which the team needs to work the hardest:
Goals against have been a major issue on the road. The Stars rank 30th in the league, allowing 3.71 goals per game away from home. The penalty kill hasn't helped. The Stars have allowed a league-high 28 power-play goals on the road and rank 30th in road penalty killing.
The Stars defensive game has slipped recently. After a good run of games in December where the Stars allowed 2.08 goals per game over one dozen contests, the Stars have surrendered 3.63 in their past 16 games.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the Stars’ season, and no one is more aware of that than the players:
The Stars begin this week five points out of a playoff spot with those 29 games remaining. There's still time, but points are at a premium in every game.
"There's a lot of games, but not a lot of games with the position we are in," said defenseman Dan Hamhuis. "Every game and every point, no matter who we are playing, whether it is home or road, these are points we need."
Mark has more to watch for, including the hometown NHL debuts of Brett Ritchie and Devin Shore and the injury status of Jamie Oleksiak, Jason Spezza and Johnny Oduya. [Stars Inside Edge]
Don’t forget the early start on tonight’s Stars-Maple Leafs game (6:30 p.m. Central time). The official watching party will be at Moxie’s in The Crescent.
The Leafs have had a games-in-hand advantage over their Atlantic Division rivals for most of the season. Now they need to start winning them. [Sportsnet]
Ruff and Shore talk about tonight’s road game from yesterday’s practice.
BREAKING (the internet): Claude Julien has been fired as the Boston Bruins’ head coach. Assistant coach Bruce Cassidy will take over as interim head coach.
All was quiet last night in The Murderous Central, but tonight it’s a little different:
- St. Louis Blues @ Ottawa Senators, 6:30 p.m. Central time
- Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks, 7 p.m. Central time
- Minnesota Wild @ Winnipeg Jets, 7 p.m. Central time
- Colorado Avalanche vs. Montreal Canadiens, 8 p.m. Central time
Tom Gulitti posts a trade-deadline primer for the Metropolitan Division and speculates on two teams who may want to target Oduya. [NHL]
The Tampa Bay Lightning began the season as Stanley Cup favorites, but their injury-blasted roster is only one reason they’re floundering in 22nd place. Here’s a look at what’s happening, courtesy of #fancystats. [Sports Illustrated]
Former Blues (and former Stars) coach Ken Hitchcock makes a public statement about his career in St. Louis.
"When I reflect on my time in St. Louis, I remember it as some of the best years of my career." https://t.co/7XZR0A93KA— NHL (@NHL) February 7, 2017
Latest shot inside Little Caesars Arena from Monday, February 6.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) February 7, 2017
-Amazing to see the lower bowl.
-Piping being laid under ice surface. pic.twitter.com/4iBH2FLhlh
Connecticut politicians made waves last Friday by inviting the New York Islanders to make their home in Hartford, and even Gary Bettman is getting in on rumor control. [NHL on NBC]
In Cedar Park, the Texas Stars will spend the weekend in a home back-to-back against the Tucson Roadrunners.
Finally: Devin Shore’s goal celebration in the Stars’ last game against the Leafs is this week’s Bud Light Frozen Moment. Hopefully we’ll get another tonight. Enjoy.