In what has been an interesting road trip for Dallas, the Stars fought their way to a desperate win on Thursday in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings. Young guns Radek Faksa and Roope Hintz led the charge, with Faksa tying it up and Hintz scoring the game winner in OT during a dreadful slog that turned into two essential points to keep the Stars in a Wild Card spot in the Central Division.
Despite Thursday’s hard-fought win, tonight Dallas takes on one of the wackiest success stories in the NHL over the past few months, the St. Louis Blues. In a crucial Central Division matchup, the Stars will look to hold onto their Wild Card spot and wrap up their season series against the Blues.
With Andrew Cogliano and captain Jamie Benn both day-to-day with upper body injuries, Joel L’Esperance joined the team in Los Angeles on an emergency call-up from the Texas Stars. There is a chance both Benn and Cogliano could be back in the lineup tonight, but Montgomery said that Cogliano’s timeline of return is more likely to happen on Tuesday, as the forward traveled back to Dallas for evaluation.
As of Friday, the Central Division race is tighter than ever, with a group of four teams separated by two points fighting for the two Wild Card spots. Those four teams? Dallas, Minnesota, Colorado, and Arizona. Tonight is the must-win for the Stars if they hope to maintain a playoff position in the standings, especially against the late-climbing Blues.
And also, serving us all a lesson of reality versus expectation, Sean Tierney of Charting Hockey dropped his updated stats graphs. I present to you the Dallas Stars — the NHL’s most average team.
From cruising the bottom of the league at the start of the 2018-19 season to now sitting in a playoff spot, the Blues have found a way to win. Just over a week ago, St. Louis visited the Stars at home in Dallas, while riding an 11-game win streak that was a franchise record. With Dallas looking to break their own current loss record, the Stars put up a fight and cleaned up, winning a rollercoaster of a game 5-2.
St. Louis had a relatively quiet trade deadline. Their lone move was to add defenseman Michael Del Zotto from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a sixth round pick. While the newest addition adds to the team’s overall strength, the Stars will be facing a familiar foe in the Blues tonight. In the Blues’ home arena this time, the Stars look to have a repeat performance and solidify their spot in the 2019 playoff race.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jamie Benn - Joel L’Esperance - Jason Spezza
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Valeri Nichushkin - Jason Dickinson - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Taylor Fedun - Ben Lovejoy
St. Louis Blues Lineup
Jaden Schwartz - Ryan O’Reilly - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Tyler Bozak - Alexander Steen
Pat Maroon - Oskar Sundqvist - Robert Thomas
Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Robert Bortuzzo
Keys to the Game
- Keeping Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly both hemmed in and off the scoresheet. That’s it; that’s the whole bullet point.
- Dallas’ defense was one of the big issues on Thursday against the Kings, most notably John Klingberg, who seemed off his game. The Stars will need to tighten up when facing the likes of Colton Parayko and the St. Louis defense.
- St. Louis will be coming off of an away and home again back-to-back. If Dallas is smart, they take advantage of their rest time and go into the game tonight refreshed and ready. Making an impact and starting fast from the get-go will be crucial.
Did you know?
Dallas has won five of their last six games against St. Louis and are 2-1-0 in the 2018-19 season series.