The Dallas Stars are in the home stretch of the regular season playoff race and it is looking like it could very much come down to a photo finish, something Stars’ fans are quite familiar with. According to dom luszczyszyn of The Athletic, The Dallas Stars currently have a 75% chance of making the playoffs while finishing the season with 90 points. However, his projections also have Arizona and the Wild finishing with 88 points and the Avalanche finishing with 86. Regardless of how you may feel about analytic projections, the postseason could very easily be determined by 2 points.. or simply one win between now and game 82.
That is why this game against the Buffalo Sabres is important. Buffalo has struggled as of late, only winning two games in their last ten. To make matters worse for the team on a four game losing streak, they will be without their captain and top scorer Jack Eichel. Jack Eichel was suspended for two games for his head shot against Carl Soderberg, sidelining him for tonight’s game against the Stars. Eichel has scored 72 points up until now and plays upward of 20 minutes a night. Missing him from the lineup is a huge blow to their offense.
This game is the Stars’ game to lose. They’ve been playing solid and tight hockey for the past few games and Bishop is coming into the pipes smoking hot with two shutouts in his last two games; saving 59 of his last 59 shots against. With the Avalanche, Wild and Coyotes all losing last night, the Stars desperately need to come into Buffalo, take care of business and get ready for a big game Thursday night in Minnesota.
Keep an eye on:
- Heiskanen vs. Dahlin. The two rookie defenseman will go head-to-head as they plead their case for Calder votes.
- L’Esperance. He’s getting the nod at the 2C between Benn and Spezza. Should I say his first goal might be coming soon, or will that jinx it?
- Coyotes vs. Blues. It’s scoreboard-watching time. Although it may look like Blues are safe.. let’s just hope for no loser point in this particular contest.
- Tyler Seguin. Number 91 for the Stars has one goal in his last eight games. Put me down for a Seguin goal on the power play tonight.
Dallas Stars Lines
Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jamie Benn - Joel L’Esperance - Jason Spezza
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Andrew Cogliano - Jason Dickinson - Valeri Nichushkin
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Ben Lovejoy
Ben Bishop in net. Taylor Fedun and Julius Honka are the expected healthy scratches on defense while Brett Ritchie will be a healthy scratch from the forward corps.
Buffalo Sabres Lines
Jeff Skinner - Casey Mittelstadt - Jason Pominville
Conor Sheary - Evan Rodrigues - Alexander Nylander
Tage Thompson - Vladimir Sobotka - Sam Reinhart
Scott Wilson - Johan Larsson - Kyel Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin - Zach Bogosian
Matt Hunwick - Rasumus Ristolainen
Marco Scandella - Brandon Montour
Carter Hutton expected in net.