For a while there, the Dallas Stars looked like they were going to enter the All-Star Break in a good position, having gone 6-2-1 in January and sitting just barely behind the St. Louis Blues for the 3rd spot in the Central Division.
Instead, they entered the break with a whimper after a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and came back from it with a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Now they’re 5 points back of the Blues for 3rd place and are within 2 points of six other Western Conference teams, all but one of which have at least a game in hand on the Stars. Even the Chicago Blackhawks, despite being last in the Central, are only 4 points out of a playoff spot right now.
Enter the Stars’ opponent for the night: the Arizona Coyotes. The struggling Coyotes team is currently dead last in the NHL, and has gone 3-3-4 in their last 10 games (the Stars, for comparison, have gone 6-3-1). The Stars won both of their previous matchups this year with Arizona, and thus the Coyotes seem to be the perfect medicine for a team looking to get back on track.
Based on reports, it seems that the Stars will roll with the same six defenders tonight as they did against the Kings. The forward lines are still murky due to the uncertain status of Antoine Roussel, and Ken Hitchcock said he’ll decide on them after warmups.
This is all speculation on my part, but if we take the starting lineup from last game and tweak the forward groups a bit, we could see something like this tonight:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Remi Elie - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Gemel Smith - Jason Dickinson - Devin Shore
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Stephen Johns - Julius Honka
Kari Lehtonen will be in net tonight.
Ex-Star Jason Demers will be out with an upper body injury tonight, while Jordan Martinook is a gametime decision. Their lineup could look something like this:
Brendan Perlini - Derek Stepan - Richard Panik
Zac Rinaldo - Max Domi - Christian Fletcher
Tobias Rieder - Christian Dvorak - Clayton Keller
Jordan Martinook - Brad Richardson - Nick Cousins
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Alex Goligoski
Jakob Chychrun - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Kevin Connauton - Luke Schenn
Antti Raanta will make his sixth consecutive start in goal.