If the Dallas Stars’ offense want reinforcements at the trade deadline, the last two games provided solid evidence that the help is needed. The first six games in February (4-1-1) saw a three goal-a-game pace, but Andrei Vasilevskiy and Petr Mrazek put an end to the fantasy that scoring issues were resolved.
The remaining six February games do not offer many breaks. Three home games are followed by three road games, and all but the February 28 game at the Los Angeles Kings is a critical four-point matchup.
The water cooler buzz revolves around what sniping miracle worker Dallas can bring in without mortgaging the foreseeable future. However, absent a rabbit out of the hat ploy by GM Jim Nill, the Stars remain a defense first, netminder-centric bubble team.
This is the third time that these teams have played in February, and this one will be the last in the regular season. Combine the divisional rivalry and implications in the standings, and you can expect a playoff atmosphere at the American Airlines Center.
With no roster adjustments since they previously played, the major matchup difference will be based on head coach Jim Montgomery’s use of last change. What that strategy might be is hard to guess from the teams’ prior meeting in Dallas on November 10. Tuesday’s Stars lineup includes only nine players who were on the ice for that 5-4 Nashville overtime victory.
The Stars are actually in a pretty good spot, but it’s about the same spot they were in last year, when a statistically improbable combination of events turned a flawed playoff team into just a bunch of guys playing golf, on the outside looking in. This week could go a long way toward putting the bitter memories of last year behind.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Andrew Cogliano
Mattias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Jason Spezza
Valeri Nichushkin - Joel L’Esperance - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun
Nashville Predators Lineup
Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala - Kyle Turris - Colton Sissons
Ryan Hartman - Calle Jarnkrok - Rocco Grimaldi
Brian Boyle - Nick Bonino - Frederick Gaudreau
Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm - P.K. Subban
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Keys to the Game
- Nashville is coming off one of their worst games of the year. Dallas hasn’t scored in two games. Expect the Predators to come out intense, looking for an early knockout. The Stars need to be ready for the energy, perhaps turning Nashville’s aggression into a lethal counter attack.
- Anton Khudobin has had a rough couple outings. He’s been magical against the Predators. One or two highlight saves early on in the game could get into Nashville’s collective head.
- Both teams can be physical. Dallas can’t go for the bait and take penalties outside the flow of the game. Poise.
Did you know?
The Stars have never been shut out three times in a row while in Dallas. While they were the Minnesota North Stars, they were shut out three consecutive games on three separate occasions.