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Stars Swing through Minnesota to Face the Wild

The Dallas Stars game on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators stuck to the script. Solid first period – but without much to show for it. A bit of a cave in during the second, followed by a dominant third (and a late goal by the current best player on the current best line).

As of late, conversations about the Stars have been a bit boring. Finding a winger for Tyler Seguin and who should fill in the the final spot on the fourth line.

In real life, those are called First World Problems. There are a bunch of lesser NHL teams who would love to be having conversations about answering those types of questions.

Because – #Starsing – you can’t just relax. But with the year coming to an end, you can sometimes sit back and enjoy the state that this hockey team has reached.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Mason Marchment (27)
Joel Kiviranta (25) – Ty Dellandrea (10) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Fredrik Olofsson (42) – Luke Glendening (11) – Radek Faksa (12)

Miro Heiskanen (4) – Nils Lundkvist (5)
Ryan Suter (20) – Colin Miller (6)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

Freddy Olofsson looks to make the case that he needs a closer look after an impressive NHL/Stars debut. If Dallas is looking for a fourth liner, Olofsson has shown in Texas that he can work with grinders and produce points.

Otherwise, Pete DeBoer looks to see if he can stabilize the top nine – running the same lineup.

Minnesota Wild Lineup

Kirill Kaprizov (97) – Sam Steel (13) – Mats Zuccarello (36)
Jordan Greenway (18) – Joel Eriksson Ek (14) – Ryan Hartman (38)
Matthew Boldy (12) – Frederick Gaudreau (89) – Samuel Walker (74)
Adam Beckman (53) – Connor Dewar (26) – Ryan Reaves (75)

Jacob Middleton (5) – Jared Spurgeon (46)
Jonas Brodin (25) – Matt Dumba (24)
Jon Merrill (4) – Calen Addison (2)

Marc-Andre Fleury (29)
Filip Gustavsson (32)

Defensively, the Wild have started to healthy scratch Alex Goligoski for performance reasons. The forward group is down a few regulars, especially Marcus Foligno who has been out with an undisclosed injury (but is back skating) and Mason Shaw, who is serving the second game of a suspension for kneeing.

Steel has been centering the Wild top line, which seems a bit of a mismatch of skill sets, given that he has never scored more than six goals in a season. It’s the Wild – they’re also giving Reaves time on their fourth line.

Fleury gets the net, which may be a blessing, since Gustavsson has been on a roll recently.

Keys to the Game

Focus. After winning games by blowouts early in the season, Dallas is now playing close games. The team is still coming out on top most of the time, but the game against Minnesota should be a tight one, so there is no room for lapses in concentration.

Suter. The ex-Wild defender played his best game of the year before the Christmas break. Since then, he’s been less than stellar. He’s -5 over his last three games and seems to be on ice (and somewhere in the mix) when the puck ends up in the Stars net. The fans boo’d him on Tuesday night in Nashville, and Minnesota isn’t going to treat him any better. Time to step up and quiet the crowd.

Fleury. He’s been known to steal games from the Stars. Time to get on the board early.