Things could not have been any different for the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars two weeks ago. One team went 7-0-1 to start the season, the other went 1-7-1. One was feeling themselves, the other was staring down the possibility of lost jobs and a lost season.
But things change mighty quickly in the NHL.
For Colorado, it started when the team lost two of their top line forwards in Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog due to injury. Rantanen toe-picked on a rut in the ice in the first period of Colorado’s 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on October 21st. He’s been listed a “week-to-week” with a lower body injury. Landeskog’s lower-body injury was worse, earning him the “out definitely” designation when the team announced his injury on October 29th.
The Avalanche have gone 1-4-1 since Rantanen’s injury, including a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on home ice (a rarity, as the altitude and travel has led to many struggles for Dallas to pull points in Mile High City over at least the past five or so seasons).
Dallas is on the other end of the spectrum.
They’ve strung together a 6-1-0 stretch since hitting rock-bottom to start the season, bringing them within one game of getting back to even on the year. The metrics have trended up over that stretch, with possession and expected goals looking much improved compared to the start of the year. In four of those games, the team scored three or more goals — something they did only twice over the first nine games in October.
Everything seems to be coming up Dallas right now, including getting themselves healthy after losing three players were lost on opening night. Blake Comeau has returned to the lineup and Andrej Sekera appears to be inching closer. They’ve found a legitimate second scoring line that causes the opposition to pick their poison for matchups. Do you focus on shutting down the Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Alexander Radulov trio? Can your second layer of defense withstand the speed of Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz and the cerebral play of Joe Pavelski if you use your top defenders to shutdown Dallas’ big three?
Not to mention, John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen know how to activate from the blueline. There’s a lot of threats for Dallas out on the ice, and the team’s shooting percentage is starting to regress back to the mean, which is resulting in more goals. With defense that ranks 8th in the league right now, when Dallas takes advantage of weaknesses, they’re not offering much in the way of their own to get the game back to evens.
Add on the fact that Antoin Khudobin and Ben Bishop have had some stellar outings, and you’d think right now by watching the Stars were the ones with that 7-1-0 record to start the year.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Denis Gurianov - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Mattias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Miro Heiskanen
Joel Hanley - Taylor Fedun
Ben Bishop should start after a stellar outing on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens.
Colorado Avalanche Lineup
Matthew Nieto - Nathan MacKinnon - Joonas Donskoi
Tyson Jost - Nazem Kadri - JT Compher
Matt Calvert - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Andre Burakovsky
Valeri Nichushkin - Vladislav Kamenev - Jayson Megna
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Cale Makar
Ryan Graves - Nikita Zadorov
Philipp Grubauer is the expected starter in net.
Make sure you are there for what promises to be one of the biggest matchups on home ice by purchasing your tickets on StubHub here.
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