The Dallas Stars are on their first road trip of the season, a two-game jaunt to the Eastern Conference. Last night’s game against the Senators was less than stellar. The Stars had better possession and more shots on goal, but some missteps from the defense left them down 3-1 before the Senators got the empty net insurance goal.
The New Jersey Devils are tonight’s opponent, and they’re currently undefeated at home in this incredibly young season. And just double checking, they haven’t actually gone on a road trip yet so they’re just straight up undefeated. This includes a 6-0 blowout against the current reigning champs, the Washington Capitals.
Yes, this is the second night of a back-to-back, but the Stars will be looking to regain some pride after last night. Other positives: while it’s been two years since the Stars have beaten the Senators, they have much better luck against the Devils, taking eight points out of the last nine games against the team.
John Klingberg is on a point streak. With a point tonight, he’d take over the lead for the franchise in point streaks for defenseman to start the season. He’s also scored as many goals already as he did last season, so there’s your confirmation that Jim Montgomery is more interested in a mobile defense than Ken Hitchcock ever was.
The Stars top six has also had a hot start. Alexander Radulov didn’t score last night, but he had a goal a game in the first four, the 2nd player in Stars history and the 4th player in franchise history to do so. In Monday night’s game, Montgomery had Radulov on the second line with Valeri Nichushkin and Jason Spezza. While he’s definitely a scarier opponent on the top line, there’s a steep drop off in point production, and part of this line blender experiment is to kick start scoring down the roster.
The power play has been riding high in the early going, and before last night, no team had held the Stars off two power plays in a row. Part of the reason it’s currently second in the NHL is that they’ve had fewer power play opportunities than most teams, but this is definitely a scary top unit that Todd Nelson has put together.
There was no team practice this morning. Montgomery said an update on the roster would come at 5 pm, just before pre-game skate. He has previously said that he likes fresh legs for back-to-backs, so we may see Gemel Smith, Roope Hintz, and/or Roman Polak in tonight. And possibly Anton Khudobin in net.
New Jersey Devils
Kyle Palmieri has had the kind of start to a season that other players dream of. The Devils have played three games so far, and Palmieri has scored twice in each of those games and is currently on pace for 164 goals this season. Should be good enough for the Rocket Richard, no? Let’s hope regression starts early. After Palmieri, the bottom six forwards for the Devils have been more productive than the Stars’ bottom six. If the Devils are able to hamstring the top lines, the game will be won or lost on the production of those bottom two lines.
The Devils’ number one goalie Cory Schneider is still not back after recovering from off season hip surgery so the Stars will likely face Keith Kinkaid, who’s been getting the job done for the Devils so far.
There was some concern that Nico Hischier wouldn’t play after leaving practice early Monday with a sore foot from blocking a shot against the Sharks, but he should be in the lineup tonight.