Three games, three wins. The start of a successful road trip no matter how you slice it.
Sure, the opposition has been hovering near the bottom of the standings. None of the victories have been all that convincing. But still, its six points earned out of six points available.
Tuesday night in New Jersey, the Dallas Stars have the opportunity to turn that into eight points for the road trip. And that’s how a playoff team handles teams on the outside looking in.
A week ago, the talk was selling at the trade deadline. John Klingberg, Joe Pavelski and any other asset not locked down or untradeable could easily be turned into prospects and draft picks who would contribute to the upcoming rebuild. That still may be the case, but Dallas is looking like a favorite for the second wild card position, and if that holds true the Stars likely won’t be obvious sellers.
Monday nights victory against the Philidelphia Flyers had just enough #Starsing to make everybody happy. The RoboHintski line kept things clicking; Roope Hintz opened the scoring on a breakaway off a feed from Jason Robertson and Pavelski finished things off with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.
Throw in a Denis Gurianov third period benching, with Riley Damiani getting time with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin to close out the game, and there is just enough drama to keep Dallas the most interesting NHL club, at least off the ice.
With Michael Raffl on injured reserve and Radek Faksa out sick, the lineup is in a bit of flux, but whether its Gurianov or Damiani getting time in the top six, the team has at least two lines that can create chances. Alexander Radulov had a solid outing with Jacob Peterson and Joel Kiviranta - producing the game winning goal and several other dangerous chances.
New Jersey has had trouble keeping the puck out of the net so far this year, but has enough young forward talent to make things interesting. Lindy Ruff’s Devils could make this one of the more entertaining games that the Stars play this year.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) - Roope Hintz (24) - Joe Pavelski (16)
Jamie Benn (14) - Tyler Seguin (91) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Jacob Peterson (40) - Alexander Radulov (47)
Tanner Kero (64) - Riley Damiani (13) - Luke Glendening (11)
Ryan Suter (20) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Esa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Andrej Sekera (5) - Jani Hakanpaa (2)
Braden Holtby (70)
Radek Faksa is still out with a non-Covid illness, and Michael Raffl is on injured reserve. Lines above could change between now and game time.
Braden Holtby will start tonight, per Rick Bowness.— Saad Yousuf (@SaadYousuf126) January 25, 2022
Bowness said he sat with Denis Gurianov this morning and watched film, showing Gurianov what the team needs from him.
New Jersey Devils Lineup
Jimmy Vessy (16) - Nico Hischier (13) - Tomas Tatar (90)
Yegor Sherangovich (17) - Jack Hughes (86) - Jesper Bratt (63)
Pavel Zacha (37) - Dawson Mercer (18) - Andreas Johnsson (11)
Janne Kuokkanen (59) - Michael Mcleod (20) - Nathan Bastian (14)
Jonas Siegenthaler (71) - Damon Severson (28)
Ryan Graves (33) - PK Subban (76)
Colton White (2) - Christian Jaros (83)
Akira Schmid (40)
Schmid is 0-2-0 in two NHL starts this year.
Schmid, who was drafted by New Jersey in the 5th round (136th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft is 9-0-2 in 11 GP for the Utica Devils, with a 1.54 GAA, a 0.948 SV% and 2 shutouts.— Owen Newkirk (@OwenNewkirk) January 25, 2022
Note: Utica is 22-5-4 in 31 GP this season and leads the entire AHL in point percentage (0.774)
Keys to the Game
Offensive Zone Pressure. The Devils give up goals. No sense playing it tight - throw pucks at the net and watch some go in.
Second Scoring Line. It doesn’t have to be Benn and Seguin. Without a true shutdown line, Dallas has four lines who can create offense, if they’re given the opportunity.
Special Teams. With no penalties on Monday night, this game may balance with multiple power plays and penalty kills. The power play has been solid, but the penalty kill needs to step up - especially with Faksa and Raffl are out.