Almost one week removed from talking about the Dallas Stars and a possible winning streak, the Stars have another chance to string together three consecutive wins. Unfortunately, the last opportunity was halted after two games by the Minnesota Wild beat down. But, here they are again. After dismantling the St. Louis Blues Saturday, the Stars have a chance to get on another winning streak. Of course, they’ll have to do it against some of the best teams in the league. You know what the saying is, though, “in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Ok maybe trying to be the best is a little too much right now. They should try to put together a winning streak first. That would be a good start. And by winning streak, I mean more than two games. Let’s put together something that will cause Josh Bogorad and Razor Reaugh to say, “the Stars have won X games in a row coming into play tonight.”
Let’s start there. Then they can move on to trying to be the best.
Let’s face it, though, this team needs some wins. It’s hard for me to say games in November are “must win” but you’re almost to that point, and I don’t mean because of the standings. We all know it’s not about how you play in November and December — it’s how you’re playing in March and April that counts.
Several years ago, we watched the Stars get on a hot streak to start the season. It was magical. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues were terrible. To start January that year, the Stars were near the top of the NHL and the Blues were near the bottom. It was the Blues, though, that went on a streak that was unheard of. They knocked Dallas out of the playoffs and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
So when I say they need some wins, I don’t mean because of the standings. It’s too early for that. But this team needs it for their morale. We saw what happened last week when Bowness sat Riley Tufte. Tyler Mair outlined everything perfectly here. This team doesn’t have an identity. Outside of Miro Heiskanen, you’re not really sure which players are going to show up night in and night out. It has to be draining from top to bottom. So, let’s see tonight if the Stars can do something against a really good Edmonton Oilers team.
Potential Lines for Dallas
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Joel Kiviranta (25) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Luke Glendening (18)
Michael Raffl (18) – Jamie Benn (14) – Denis Gurianov (34)
Jacob Peterson (40) – Radek Faksa (12) – Alexander Radulov (47)
Ryan Suter (20) – John Klingberg (3)
Esa Lindell (23) – Miro Heiskanen (4)
Joel Hanley (44) – Jani Hakanpää
Jake Oettinger (29)
Anton Khudobin (35)
The Edmonton Oilers
The next two games for the Stars, including tonight, will feature two of the three top scoring teams in the league. Tonight, the Stars will face the third best. Edmonton is scoring nearly four goals per game this season. Not surprising really, especially when you think about their lineup. Connor McDavid is still Connor McDavid. He has 12 goals already on the season and that’s only two-thirds the amount of Leon Draisaitl, who has 18 goals. Both players have over 30 points already in 17 games played.
The offense drops off considerably after those two. But that doesn’t mean you can stop them from scoring and expect to win the game. It will go a long way, though. Both players are so good at distributing the puck that you have to be on your “A” game every time they’re on the ice — and they’re on the ice a lot. Both players are averaging well over 20 minutes of ice time per game. The Stars defense is going to have to be really good tonight if they want to walk away with another victory. That or the offense is going to have outscore the Oilers and I’m not sure I trust that scenario.
Also adding to the offensive firepower of the Oilers is the fact that their power play is the most lethal in the NHL. They’re converting at a nearly 40% (!) clip. The Stars penalty kill is only killing off about 76% of chances against (ranking 27th in the league), so staying out of the box is imperative — and that’s not something the Stars have been very disciplined about of late.
On the positive side, the Stars are no slouch on the man advantage themselves. The team has the fourth-best power play, converting on about 27% of chances. If these two teams are not careful, this could become a massive special teams battle tonight.
Oilers Potential Lines
Zach Hyman (18) – Connor McDavid (97) – Jesse Puljujarvi (13)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) – Leon Draisaitl (29) – Kailer Yamamoto (56)
Warren Foegele (37) – Ryan McLeod (71) – Zack Kassian (44)
Brendan Perlini (42) – Colton Sceviour (70) – Kyle Turris (8)
Duncan Keith (2) – Evan Bouchard (75)
Tyson Barrie (22) – Kris Russell (6)
Philip Broberg (86) – Cody Ceci (5)
Stuart Skinner (74)
Mikko Koskinen (19)