The Dallas Stars still may not be scoring many goals, but at least over the last month or so, they have been something other than dead in the water when down in the third period. First periods are still dismal, but that’s a story for another day.
The Stars were pretty lethargic for Saturday’s game in Glendale, and head coach Jim Montgomery looks to shake up the lineup a bit.
Stars lineup for tomorrow in Florida:— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) February 11, 2019
Roope Hintz and Jason Dickinson are getting a chance to move up to top-six positions, while Brett Ritchie gets rewarded for his goal in Arizona and will bring a bit of size to Jason Spezza’s line.
With the point-leading Tampa Bay Lightning next up, and a resurgent Carolina Hurricanes to end the five-game road trip, this matchup could easily be the difference between a solid road stretch and a February disaster which could bring back memories of last March’s playoff swoon.
This year’s Florida Panthers present an interesting contrast with the Stars. Florida can score, but they can’t keep the puck out of their own net. They are almost certainly out of the playoff race because that goal leakage is outpacing their offensive production, which is not helped by their unfortunate placement within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
If Dallas emphasizes anything this week, it needs to be avoiding penalties at all costs. Florida is second in the league on the power play, sporting a solid 26.46 scoring percentage, while generating the fourth most opportunities. The Lightning lead the league at a robust 29.12, so solid citizenship for the Florida portion following the Moms’ Trip is in order.
Offensively, the Panthers send out a productive first line with Aleksander Barkov. Each member of the line has over 40 points. Florida’s second line is young, small, and lethal making defensive matchups difficult. Jamie McGinn just finished a conditioning assignment, and will make his season debut Tuesday night on a rough and tumble fourth line.
Defensively, Florida relies heavily on their top pair of Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad. The rest of the defense is somewhat young and somewhat large. The Panthers are carrying eight defenders, with the bottom pair in a regular state of flux.
Roberto Luongo and James Reimer have been splitting duties in net, with disappointing results. Both sport a goals against average above three and a save percentage below .9. Reimer is 3-1 against the Stars in his career, but Luongo gets the start after Reimer was pulled at the end of the second period against the Lightning.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jamie Benn - Jason Dickinson - Blake Comeau
Andrew Cogliano - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Valeri Nichushkin
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun
Florida Panthers Lineup
Mike Hoffman - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov
Jonathan Huberdeau - Vincent Trocheck - Frank Vatrano
Derick Brassard - Henrik Borgstrom - Denis Malgin
Jamie McGinn - Riley Sheahan - Troy Brouwer
Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad
Mike Matheson - Mark Pysyk
Bogdan Kiselevich - Joshua Brown
Keys to the Game
- This should be a classic game of contrasting styles. The difference maker for the Stars should be whether they can take advantage of the times when Yandle and Ekblad are not on the ice.
- Anton Khudobin has been solid in his last two outings, but team defense has hung him out to dry. Khudobin can steal games at times, but Dallas needs to get back to the solid team effort that they demonstrated at the beginning of their recent five-game winning streak.
- It’s not often that the Stars are at a disadvantage on special teams, but tonight is an exception. This is not a game for unbridled emotion. Don’t get baited into cheap penalties and don’t take offensive zone fouls.
- Dallas has been resurgent in the third period in the last month and has been strong in the second period all year. Florida is in their third game in four nights. Don’t give up anything easy early and wear Florida down.
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