Before I jump into the game preview, I’d like to take the time to thank all of you for indulging me the freedom to create a game preview that is less nuts and bolts about the coming game and is more my thoughts and feelings about where the Stars are on their season path and where the coming game fits into that journey.
With the de-funding of Defending Big D, the motivation to put up content that allows Vox to monetize your eyeballs is, shall we say, less than overwhelming. On the other hand, our community deserves a place where there is current, relevant content - and for now, that is right here.
So, for the time being, I’m going to make my best effort to get previews up and to put my the time into making them pertinent and interesting (or, at least, a place where you can jump into the comments before the game thread comes out).
That said, I was two periods into a delayed watching of Monday’s Dallas Stars/Buffalo Sabres game when we had a rare DBD group discussion. In the middle of that, my friend Juraj Kralik threw out a final score spoiler that took the drama out of the last period+.
So when the Stars went down 2-1, I knew that they’d come back. And when the team pushed to win it in regulation, I knew it was futile. I suppose you could look at the two teams and their overtime record and just guess what was going to happen.
The interesting part of the game was how the Stars came out, jumping passing lanes and cutting off bump passes - finding themselves wide open in front of the net, but unable to find the twine. Jamie Benn broke the ice, and his power play goal showed a first unit with Roope Hintz just as dominant as it was before his upper body injury.
The Sabres tightened things up after the first 10 minutes, and even took it to Dallas for a good portion of the late first and second periods, but other than that, this was a fun game to watch between two teams that could easily make waves come playoff time.
Not to be lost in all of that, we saw a glimpse of HIntz centering Mason Marchment and Denis Gurianov. They were, per Pete DeBoer, “Okay”. By the end of the game, the Hintz, Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski super-line was back - but I, for one, hope that this wasn’t just a brief experiment. Tyler Seguin with Robertson and Pavelski worked while Hintz was out, and there is no reason to think that it wouldn’t continue to work. Hintz could probably center Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta and make it work.
Bottom line - there are many reasons to have three lines that can score, and it’s worth giving that look more than a cursory glance.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Mason Marchment (27) – Roope Hintz (24) – Denis Gurianov (34)
Luke Glendening (11) – Radek Faksa (12) – Joel Kiviranta (25)
Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Ryan Suter (20) – Nils Lundkvist (5)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)
With Hintz back, the Stars are back in cap space accumulation mode. I thought Fredrik Olofsson proved that he’s an NHL player during his 13 game stint with Dallas, but unfortunately, he’s a victim of the numbers game right now.
The other big question is Lundkvist and his return to the lineup. Joel Hanley has been solid but he is the seventh defender on the team and the RHD rookie, Lundkvist, is too valuable to keep in the press box for long.
Carolina Hurricanes Lineup
Teuvo Teravainen (86) - Sebastian Aho (20) - Seth Jarvis (24)
Andrei Svechnikov (37) - Paul Stastny (26) - Martin Necas (88)
Jordan Martinook (48) - Jordan Staal (11) - Jesper Fast (71)
Derek Stepan (21) - Jesperi Kotkaniemi (82) - Stefan Noesen (23)
Jalen Chatfield (5) - Brent Burns (8)
Brady Skjei (76) - Brett Pesce (22)
Calvin De Haan (44) - Dylan Coghlan (15)
Antti Raanta (32)
Frederik Andersen (31)
Carolina is still adjusting to Max Pacioretty re-tearing his right Achilles after just two weeks, and five games (3-0-3), from his return. He’s been moved to injured reserve and is likely done for the year.
On the blueline, Jaccob Slavin is also day-to-day with a lower body injury.
Keys to the Game
Forecheck. The Stars were relentless to open the game against Buffalo. Expect that, on steroids, coming from the Hurricanes. The defense that can withstand the pressure and break out of the defensive zone with possession will have a huge advantage.
Finishing. Dallas got goalied the last time out, but they also let the Sabres off the hook by not finishing point blank chances. Jake Oettinger is going to see a lot of rubber and he needs to control his rebounds to keep the Hurricanes off the board.
Battle/Breaks. There are a lot of similarities between Dallas and Carolina. Finns, forechecking, and high end talent. These type of games get determined by who wins the individual battles and/or who gets a lucky break - and sometimes the former leads to the latter.