As excited as I was to see hockey being played again in Dallas, apparently I wasn’t as excited as the guys in victory green. A combined score of 10–2 in the series as well as an NHL record-tying eight power-play goals in the two games was enough to make any Dallas Stars fan ecstatic. Add in the fact that they scored a shorthanded goal, and you almost have the recipe for a perfect opening.
Dallas scored just one power-play goal in their first 25 shifts on the man-advantage to start the 2019–20 season. That was an eight-game stretch. Now, after two games, the Stars lead the NHL with two goals every three times they go on the job. That’s a ridiculous number. At that pace, the Stars would score 224 power-play goals in this shortened season. Obviously, we know that’s not going to happen, but it does lead me into the key to the game:
The Dallas Stars have as many points in their first two games as the Detroit Red Wings have in their six games. We all know from watching last season that momentum can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
On paper, the Stars are a better team than the Red Wings. They should be able to win one, if not two of these games. However, if the Stars come out and give the Red Wings some life in the first game, momentum could turn quickly from ally to foe.
At the time of writing this, the status of Jamie Benn and Joel Kirivanta are still up in the air. That means it is even more important for players like Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, Alexander Radulov and others to step up. Pavelski had no problems stepping up against the Nashville Predators. In the two-game series with Nashville, the veteran center scored three goals and had four assists.
Speaking of momentum, Anton Khudobin seems to be riding the momentum from the playoff bubble as this season starts. I guess nobody told him there should be a lull from losing in the Stanley Cup Final (please, no one tell him). He was absolutely brilliant against the Predators and Khudobin may be the reason Dallas wins a game or two against Detroit as well.
Dallas Line Combinations
These are the line combinations I would except to see based off Sunday’s game. Of course this could all change depending on what happens with Benn and Kiviranta.
Jason Dickinson (18) - Roope Hintz (24) - Dennis Gurianov (34)
Tanner Kero (64) - Joe Pavelski (16) - Alexander Radulov (47)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Radek Faksa (12) - Ty Dellandrea (10)
Jason Robertson (21) - Justin Dowling (37) - Nicholas Caamano (17)
Essa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Jamie Oleksiak (2) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Andrej Sekera (5) - Mark Pysyk (13)
Anton Khudobin (35)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Analyzing the Enemy
Coming into this season, the Detroit Red Wings were predicted by a lot of hockey experts to finish dead last. Not just in their division but in the NHL. That’s a far cry from the team that was a model of consistency for so many years. It was just a few years ago that the Red Wings were making the playoffs for the 25th straight season.
Their top line is fun to watch and can cause a lot of damage if left unchecked (pun intended). Tyler Bertuzzi netted 21 goals in each of the last two seasons. He also recorded 26 and 27 assists, respectively. Dylan Larkin, also on that line, has 266 points in his five-year career. He already has six points (three goals and three assists) in six games this season.
Detroit Line Combinations
Mathias Brome (86) - Dylan Larkin (71) - Tyler Bertuzzi (59)
Vladislav Namestnikov (92) - Luke Glendening (41) - Anthony Mantha (39)
Valtteri Filppula (51) - Michael Rasmussen (27) - Bobby Ryan (54)
Taro Hirose (67) - Frans Nielsen (81) - Givani Smith (48)
Patrik Nemeth (22) - Filip Hronek (17)
Danny DeKeyser (65) - Christian Djoos (44)
Mark Staal (18) - Troy Stecher (70)
Jonathan Bernier (45)
Thomas Greiss (29)
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. CST tonight.