The Dallas Stars have struggled this season, even as their record has improved. A fair part of the team’s consistency has been on the negative side: planning around the serial misfortunes of Martin Hanzal and struggling to drive offense with defense.
Tonight, the Stars will face the same issues as they face the Anaheim Ducks, writes Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News.
On Tuesday, the Stars juggled lines and moved Jamie Benn to center in case Hanzal can’t play. He missed Sunday’s game against the Sharks because of general soreness. That was his eighth injury situation of the season. A week ago, the Stars expected Hanzal to play against Pittsburgh, but then had to make him a late scratch, so they are taking a cautious approach to the veteran center.
“To protect us against Hanzal, we had Jamie Benn practice as a center today,” [head coach Ken] Hitchcock said. “We need some flexibility there, depending on how Marty comes through. We don’t want to get caught like we were last week when we assumed Marty was going to be able to play and he wasn’t able to, so we practiced in preparation.”
On this road trip, size is near the top of Hitch’s list of concerns, which makes the impact of Hanzal’s possible absence even more acute:
“We would like to try it to get some balance,” Hitchcock said of breaking up the top line, which contains the team’s top three scoring forwards in Benn, Seguin and Radulov. “There are a lot of heavyweight center ice positions over the next four games that we’re going to be involved in, so the balance would do us good.”
There’s more at Mike’s place. [SportsDayDFW]
It’s Full of Stars
Mark Stepneski posted a brief lineup note last night. Check his @StarsInsideEdge feed this morning for a link to the official game preview.
Ben Bishop in goal tomorrow vs. Anaheim.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) February 20, 2018
Hanzal practiced, status for game will be determined tomorrow.
If you’re reading this before 12:30 p.m. CST, you can catch Stars owner Tom Gagliardi live on BaD Radio at 96.7 FM The Ticket. [iHeartRadio]
Meanwhile, here’s a practice update from Hitch himself.
Speaking of updates, it looks more and more likely that the Stars will face Ryan Miller in net tonight:
INJURY UPDATE: John Gibson is doubtful to return to tonight's game with a lower-body injury.— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) February 20, 2018
Around the League(s)
Another Day in the #MDK
- Juuse Saros stopped 34 shots to lead the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in the Motor City. [On The Forecheck]
- Elsewhere, the St. Louis Blues ran into the sharp end of the San Jose Sharks and added to their current losing streak, 3-2. [St. Louis Game Time]
- Dion Phaneuf and Dustin Brown scored for the Los Angeles Kings, and the Winnipeg Jets were on the load end, 4-3. [NHL]
- And the Colorado Avalanche scored five times on the power play and climbed out of a three-goal hole to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in overtime, 5-4. [Mile High Hockey]
Anze Kopitar picked up his 800th NHL point in his 900th NHL start during the Kings’ victory last night.
Anze Kopitar collected an assist to reach the 800-point milestone (280-520—800 in 900 GP) and help the @LAKings pick up their third straight win on the heels of a three-game slide (0-3-0). #NHLStats #LAKvsWPG pic.twitter.com/t7Fxg67xO9— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 21, 2018
Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds will be out two to three weeks with an upper-body injury, and it’s hard to say whether this loss or that of goalie Michal Neuvirth will end up being worse for them.
But this may provide an answer: The writing has been on the wall ever since the Wings left goalie Petr Mrazek exposed during the expansion draft. Now GM Ken Holland is talking up a full rebuild, and Mrazek has been traded to the Flyers for picks.
Updated Red Wings story on Petr Mrazek trade with reaction from Holland, Blashill | Tomas Tatar on how Mrazek feels about trade | Mike Green open to hear trade scenarios— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) February 20, 2018
https://t.co/jR1zoVzj5n via @freep
Michael Grabner to the Penguins? Mike Hoffman to the Jets? Elliotte Friedman has posted another 31 Thoughts and looks at trades that could be and trades that definitely won’t – even if there really are fewer than 20 “untouchable” players in the league. [Sportsnet]
Ben Bishop, Ken Hitchcock and former Star (and current Calgary Flames goalie) Mike Smith talk about the human side of the NHL trade deadline: the logistical and emotional chaos it can create for the players who move, and the players who don’t. [NHL]
And here’s your “wait, what?” moment of the day: 40-year-old future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla has been spotted on the ice with the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence.
2018 Winter Olympics Action
Miro Heiskanen continues to impress in PyeongChang with a goal and 17:34 TOI in Finland’s 5-2 win over South Korea, which guarantees a semifinal match-up with Russia. Mark Stepneski brought video.
Miro Heiskanen has scored a goal for Finland at the Olympics today. Highlight is here: https://t.co/sZhqkTeFEJ— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) February 20, 2018
Unfortunately, Team USA will go no further. The men’s team lost a shootout thriller 3-2, and the Czech Republic advances to the semifinals.
U.S. men’s Olympic medal dreams die in shootout https://t.co/VVojliIHky— Olympic Hockey on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) February 21, 2018
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
On Thursday, March 1, the Texas Stars Foundation will take part in Amplify Austin Day 2018. They’re doing their part for the “I Live Here, I Give Here” movement, and so can you.
On March 1st, The Texas Stars Foundation will be participating in @AmplifyATX Day. A fun and rewarding way for the community to help local nonprofits. Click below to make a donation to the Texas Stars Foundation. https://t.co/1UhppiaJM9 pic.twitter.com/ABq7MuJvWv— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) February 20, 2018
Kids ages 4-9 who live in the Austin area have an opportunity to Try Hockey For Free at Chaparral Ice in NorthCross Mall. Register each child and mark your calendar for Saturday, March 3, 2018.