A lot has happened in the two weeks since the Dallas Stars faced the Winnipeg Jets to start a four-game swing through western Canada. Following that game, head coach Jim Montgomery called out Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin for their lack of production, a statement that he quickly retracted.
Since that match, the Stars have put up four straight wins. The Jets followed up their victory over the Stars with a 4-0 hairball against the Colorado Avalanche, but have subsequently reeled off three straight road wins.
On Wednesday, the Stars reassigned Nicholas Caamano to the Texas Stars. This likely means that Mattias Janmark is ready for game action and will be a player against the Jets.
Roope Hintz and John Klingberg are skating, but don’t appear to be available for tonight’s game.
Winnipeg has been getting their wins by outscoring their defensive deficiencies. During their last 10 games, the Jets are 7-2-1, and during that stretch the team has scored at least four goals in five of the games. During that same 10-game stretch, the Stars are 8-1-1 and have given up two goals or less in six of those games.
Tonight’s game sets up with a Jets team that wins 4-3 against a Stars team that wins 2-1. The NHL is a 3-2 league, so this game looks to be a matchup of contrasting styles.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jamie Benn (14) - Justin Dowling (37) - Tyler Seguin (91)
Denis Gurianov (34) - Joe Pavelski (16) - Alexander Radulov (47)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Radek Faksa (12) - Blake Comeau (15)
Mattias Janmark (13) - Jason Dickinson (18) - Corey Perry (10)
Esa Lindell (23) - Taylor Fedun (42)
Jamie Oleksiak (2) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Andrej Sekera (5) - Roman Polak (45)
Ben Bishop (30)
Winnipeg Jets Lineup
Kyle Connor (81) - Mark Scheifele (55) - Patrik Laine (29)
Nikolaj Ehlers (27) - Blake Wheeler (26) - Jack Roslovic (28)
Andrew Copp (9) - Adam Lowry (17) - Mathieu Perreault (85)
Joona Luoto (46) - David Gustafsson (19) - Logan Shaw (38)
Josh Morrissey (44) - Tucker Poolman (3)
Dmitry Kulikov (7) - Neal Pionk (4)
Nathan Beaulieu (88) - Luca Sbisa (5)
Connor Hellebuyck (37)
Keys to the Game
The Stars are on a major run. Everything is working. However, there is too much randomness in hockey for this to continue. It may not be this game, but at some point, Dallas is going to play a game where the breaks go against them, perhaps completely. When that happens, the Stars need to stick with the process and system that has put them on their current streak.
Defensive zone exits. Both teams have pairings that could have trouble leaving the zone if pressured. The team that can pressure the puck with an aggressive forecheck should garnish the most quality chances.
Goaltending. Hellebuyck’s play has helped gloss over many of the Jets’ defensive problems. Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin have also picked up their play significantly during the current winning streak. Netminding could easily determine the winner of this contest.