These are not the (Dallas Stars) you’re looking for. The situation is, however, an ice-cream headache with which you’re all too familiar, Stars fan.
The Stars are riding a lost-seven-of-eight streak, scoring over a goal under their norm while surrendering north of 3.5 over the stretch. The Chicago Blackhawks have raced passed them and don’t look particularly concerned about looking back. The St. Louis Blues are not far behind.
They need a win. They need to stop the bleeding before the All-Star break arrives. They need to rely on their strengths.
They can’t find too many of those lately, however. They have an .890 save percentage in 2016, according to Mike Heika. They’re killing penalties at a 70% clip in their last eight games and they’re converting on the power play rarely- 3 of their last 22.
While the water line has hit just about every hole in the boat one could imagine at this point, Lindy Ruff is concerned about one in particular-
“I think the biggest thing is our big boys haven’t been converting,” he told media Friday. “It’s tough on the rest of the lineup when they’re not on the scoresheet.”
Challenge extended. Again. The first one came near their selection to the All-Star festivities in the form of a benching in New York. This one comes now on the cusp of the All-Star break itself and the exposure it will bring.
It speaks to the high-standard Jamie Benn has set for himself and his teammates that he’s recorded four points in their last five games and still Ruff comments thusly.
On paper the Stars have been strong at home of late, winning nine of their last eleven. The reality is that they’ve played at home twice in the last twenty days and lost the last one to the Minnesota Wild in a stagnant affair. They’ve scored two goals in their last two home games. Total.
Their challenge tonight comes in the form of the Edmonton Oilers, whose fortunes have been comparatively better of late. Edmonton has recorded points in four of their last five games, including an impressive road win at Florida against Jaromir Jagr and his streaking gang.
Still, winning on the road is a rarity for this bunch, and they’ve just one in their last nine outings away from Rexall. Tuesday they suffered a 6-4 loss in Tampa in which they went 0-for-4 on the power play.
“I misread the puck, it took a little funny bounce,” Nilsson explained afterward. “I thought the puck was coming at me and I thought they were going to have a chance for a breakaway, that’s why I went out to play it. Unfortunately, I misread the play, I couldn’t get out in time and he put it in the net. It was the deciding goal, so it was tough.”
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recently went down with a broken hand this week after blocking a shot, however, and they find themselves down two of their top centers as a result.
“We have a lot of firepower in here, it’s a matter of playing the right way and the offense will take care of itself,” Zack Kassian told media this week. “There are a lot of guys in here that can put the puck in the net, it’s just a matter of doing the right things and playing the right way.”
Their lineup, or something like it-
From Stars PR:
TELL HER THAT ALBERTA SAYS HELLO
The Dallas Stars begin a three-game homestand on Thursday night at American Airlines Center against the Edmonton Oilers. The Stars play the third and final game of the season series against the Oilers, having collected points in every game this season (1-0-1) against them. In the first meeting of the season at American Airlines Center on Oct. 13, Dallas recorded a 4-2 victory behind a hat trick from forward Jason Spezza (3-0=3) and goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopping 26-of-28 shots faced. The Stars have collected points in 15 of their last 16 games at home against the Edmonton Oilers (13-1-2).
JANMARKS THE SPOT
Rookie forward Mattias Janmark registered an assist (0-1=1) in the first period of Tuesday’s matchup in Los Angeles and now has points in three consecutive games (1-2=3). Janmark has points in four of his last five games (1-3=4) and in two of his last three contests (1-1=2) on home ice. He shares eighth among NHL rookies with 19 points (10-9=19) and ranks 10th with 10 goals. The Stockholm, Sweden, native enters Thursday’s tilt with points (1-1=2) in both career NHL games against the Oilers, including the game-tying goal (1-0=1) to force overtime goal in their most recent meeting in Edmonton on Dec, 4.