Can the Stars follow up one full 60-minute effort with another? The home win over the Carolina Hurricanes highlighted strong defense and a resurgent power play. The Victory Green Gang will need both of these to counter the Leafs’ fleet forwards and newly improved goaltending (see below).
Perhaps more importantly, are they willing to let their best-in-league goaltending tandem make a few big saves if it means more scoring opportunities? The Stars played fast and loose in the second period during the Canes game – and it helped create big chances for Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn that opened up a pretty even game.
It’s easy to think of other Stars who could benefit from that. Wouldn’t it be nice if Tyler Seguin could shake off his scoring slump in his hometown? As Sean Shapiro has noted, Seguin’s overall game continues to be elite – and he’s still the Stars’ top points-getter, even if his goal card has been sadly empty since December 28. It’s only a matter of time until the levee breaks.
You’ve probably already read DBD Tyler’s piece about the Jason Robertson call-up. Russian sniper Alexander Radulov was in a minor scoring slump of his own before he landed on injured reserve – can the Texas Stars’ scoring leader show off his net-front skills and inch-perfect passing to make the most of his NHL debut?
A New Leaf
Can Jack Campbell get the Leafs to the playoffs? The former Stars first-rounder, who reclaimed his netminding game with the Los Angeles Kings, put up a .900 save percentage on one of the NHL’s worst teams before the trade to Toronto. He’s already posting some breathtaking numbers in his three games with the Leafs (two wins and an overtime loss), including a .946 save percentage in Tuesday’s OT victory over the Arizona Coyotes. With injured starter Frederik Andersen finally back at practice, the Leafs will look to Campbell for the reliable backup goaltending that will help punch their ticket to the postseason.
Top scorers Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander will try to get on the board quickly and often. In addition, Kasperi Kapanen is coming on strong and has played at nearly a point-per-game pace in February.
Keep an eye on Tyson Barrie, as well. The right-handed defenseman has racked up 32 points in 57 games this season and has quietly become the Leafs’ sixth-leading points scorer. He typically eats up more than 25 minutes a night, and his un-flashy style lends itself to sneaky attacks that end up in the back of the net.
The Stars’ prospective lineup, with the addition of their newest call-up:
Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin - Corey Perry
Jamie Benn - Jason Dickinson - Denis Gurianov
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Jason Robertson - Mattias Janmark - Joel Kiviranta
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak - Roman Polak
Ben Bishop in goal.
Scratched: Joe Pavelski (day-to-day undisclosed), Taylor Fedun (conditioning assignment)
IR: Justin Dowling (lower body), Alexander Radulov (upper body)
Toronto Maple Leafs
The home starters:
William Nylander - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Alexander Kerfoot
Andreas Johnsson - Jason Spezza - Kasperi Kapanen
Kyle Clifford - Pierre Engvall - Pontus Aberg
Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl
Travis Dermott - Tyson Barrie
Rasmus Sandin - Timothy Liljegren
Frederik Andersen returns from a neck injury, so Jack Campbell will do backup duty against the team that drafted him.
Scratched: Cody Ceci (ankle), Ilya Mikheyev (wrist), Morgan Rielly (lower body)
Puck drop: 6 p.m. CST (Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON)
TV: TVAS, FS-SW
Radio: KTCK 1310 AM / 96.7 FM The Ticket
Online: FOX Sports Go app / theticket.com