The Dallas Stars owe much of their current hot streak to special teams. The power play, in particular, has delivered time and time again as the Victory Green Gang has outscored opponents in seven of their last eight games.
It’s no less than what many fans expected, but the way the Stars’ two-pronged extra-man attack has shaped up is still something special, as The Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks writes. Assistant coach Derek Laxdal has kept the same players on both units all season except for injury situations – but some timely tweaks have sharpened their game:
Moving [Miro] Heiskanen to the circle was perhaps the biggest adjustment the Stars made after Heiskanen ran the point on a unit for most of his first three seasons in the league.
“Well, maybe Miro’s really good over here because he’s so calm and patient with the puck and he’s got great vision,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “Let’s try that.”
The two units have split time almost equally this season, and Laxdal said there are a number of factors that go into which unit gets on the ice first: who is tired at the time of the penalty, who has been winning faceoffs, which unit is playing better that night, and more.
With John Klingberg and Ryan Suter running point, the Stars’ power play is responsible for 11 goals so far this season (six goals in 27:46 for the Klingberg unit, five goals in 26:49 for Suter’s). Laxdal sets the structure, but the players are taking more and more initiative for changing up on the fly:
“In the meeting, I said, ‘You guys are playing the game out there. You guys are seeing what’s on the ice. If you guys see something you can incorporate, take ownership of it,’” Laxdal said. “I think that’s one thing they’ve done a great job of, all the guys on both units are taking ownership of it.”...
“I’d like to see a little bit more movement on that unit where Miro slides to the middle and Denis [Gurianov] slides out for a one-timer,” Laxdal said. “Just keeps teams off balance a little bit, right? So now they’re worried about his one-timer instead of Miro being able to make a play. Miro can take the one-timer, but it’s probably a little more apparent with Denny. ‘OK, a one-time bomb is coming.’”
Matt has more. [SportsDayDFW]
It’s game day! Here’s how the Stars looked for yesterday’s practice, with Klinger “under the weather” and Braden Holtby taking a maintenance day.
Stars during practice today:— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) December 1, 2021
No Klingberg or Holtby.
Rick Bowness has words for the Stars’ new Supernova line.
Razor sums up a historic Tuesday night and hails the King Finn in a Finn-centric game.
Around The Leagues
In On The #Kill Taker
But they’re still first-tier Stanley Cup contenders, because Greg Wyshynski says they are.
After a quarter of the NHL season, we’ve got a clearer picture of the teams that can taste the Stanley Cup and those whose aspirations are now basically delusional.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) December 2, 2021
The NHL Contender Tiers, in this week’s column. https://t.co/gFwGm8UEr1
The Avs’ emergency back-up goaltender, Jett Alexander, became the third EBUG to dress for a game in Scotiabank Arena in less than two years.
With Darcy Kuemper hurt, the Colorado Avalanche have added emergency backup Jett Alexander to its roster on Wednesday against Toronto.— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) December 2, 2021
Who is the Canadian university netminder?https://t.co/V3tmt6u56t pic.twitter.com/8In9ONlSQ7
It’s been a long, storied search for the grail. Now, with the Florida Panthers, has Joe Thornton’s hour come ’round at last?
Hockey fans, you sit next to the people who say crap like this. Ever thought about doing a synchronized beer drop on them? Just once?
Mark Connors, who is Black, says he was called the N-word and told 'this is a white man's sport' https://t.co/RkWIjaGBMk— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) December 2, 2021
Big news for #TexasHockey? We’ll surely find out.
As per my Forbes colleague @MikeOzanian, the Arizona Coyotes are "for sale again with idea of buyer eventually moving team to a new arena in Houston."— Eric Macramalla (@EricMacramalla) December 2, 2021
Your daily thought experiment:
If the Arizona Coyotes were to move to Houston, the team name should be the Houston __________?— Daily Faceoff (@DailyFaceoff) December 2, 2021
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
Want to see that game-winner? Of course you do.
The pass from Gleas and the finish from Delly pic.twitter.com/bA7Dy9PkIn— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) December 2, 2021
If you can’t stop talking about Roope Hintz, maybe it’s time to put him on your phone. Enjoy.