All lines are rolling, defensive pairs are limiting chances (and joining the rush) and Scott Wedgewood is holding his own. For the most part, the Dallas Stars have been able to roll the same lineup every night, and this consistency is showing up on the scoreboard.
Sure, there were a few games where Miro Heiskanen was out with an upper body injury. But he’s back, and his level of play has been Norris worthy. Jake Oettinger is still out, but there is no indication that he won’t be back in the crease in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, “Wedgewall” has only given up two goals per night since he was thrown into the starters role a week ago.
In that same time, the offense has been off the charts good, putting up five, six and seven goals - and getting contributions up and down the lineup. Even the early season penalty box parade has subsided (a bit).
So, with all that good news, the Stars face the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night. Jets head coach Rick Bowness should be behind the bench after recovering from a bout with Covid. Do we see the new, high powered offensive juggernaut from Texas take on the familiar dump and chase schemes of last years Stars coach - or will Winnipeg show something new?
Whatever the Jets bring, this is a battle of the early season top two teams in the NHL Central Division. Dallas won round one of this series 4-1 on October 17, outshooting Winnipeg 29-25. The Stars were losing for almost seven minutes that night after Mark Scheifele teed one up from the top of the left circle.
Dallas has only given up the first goal of the game twice this year, and both times the team has bounced back to even things up. Much of what the Stars have been able to accomplish so far this year is related to grabbing and holding (or extending) a lead. It allows the team to roll all four lines, and keep heavy minutes for some of the older players to a minimum.
Dallas has been able to ride this formula for 12 games, and there’s no reason to change it.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Mason Marchment (27) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Denis Gurianov (34)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Joel Kiviranta (25) – Radek Faksa (12) – Luke Glendening (11)
Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Ryan Suter (20) – Nils Lundkvist (5)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpaa (2)
Scott Wedgewood (41)
Oettinger is the only injury for the Stars, but the team only has 12 forward available and backup goaltender Matt Murray has never played in an NHL game.
Winnipeg Jets Lineup
Kyle Connor (81) - Mark Scheifele (55) - Mason Appleton (22)
Cole Perfetti (91) - Pierre-Luc Dubois (80) - Blake Wheeler (26)
Saku Maenalanen (8) - Adam Lowry (17) - Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (71)
Jansen Harkins (12) - David Gustafsson (19) - Sam Gagner (89)
Joshua Morrissey (44) - Neal Pionk (4)
Brenden Dillon (5) - Nate Schmidt (88)
Dylan Samberg (54) - Dylan DeMelo (2)
Connor Hellebuyck (37)
The Jets rely heavily on their top players - both Scheifele and Connor average more than 20 minutes per game up front and both Morrissey and PIonk average more than 22 minutes. Hellebuyck has started nine of the teams eleven games, sporting a Vezina caliber 2.09 Goals Against Average and a 0.937 Save Percentage.
Winnipeg is moderately healthy, with fourth liner Morgan Barron out for several weeks with a wrist injury and part time third pair defender Logan Stanley week to week with a foot injury. Nicolaj Ehlers has missed all but two games this year with a lower body injury, but should start skating soon.
#NHLJets coach Rick Bowness is hopeful that Ehlers will start skating by the end of the week.— Mitchell Clinton (@MitchellClinton) November 7, 2022
Keys to the Game
Goalie Battle. Dallas has 18 goals in their last three games. Don’t let the reversion to the mean happen in just one game. Defensively, don’t force Wedgewood to be the hero.
Dallas depth vs. Winnepeg stars. Both teams are rested, neither having played since Saturday. Winnipeg doesn’t play again until this coming Saturday, so expect a short bench. Dallas doesn’t have another game until Friday, so if they need to shorten the bench, they can - but why?
Special Teams. The Stars have been better of late, but loading up the Jets power play may just be a bad idea.