Division Leaders Collide as Avalanche hits Dallas

So much for the bottom feeders. Saturday afternoon game presents challenges (and opportunities) for Stars against a chief rival.

Early Saturday afternoon, Dallas Stars fans will get a preview of what a playoff run could look like when the Colorado Avalanche hit town for a nationally televised game. With the early start, there isn’t a good way to figure out Pete DeBoer’s ideas on how to integrate Max Domi into the forward lineup.

Colorado is still missing a few pieces from their Stanley Cup team, but in any case, Dallas needs to make a better showing than they have lately against significantly lesser competition.

So, an early preview of the home stretch for division supremacy, with a dash of the unknown.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeni Dadonov (63)
Mason Marchment (27) – Max Domi (18) - Tyler Seguin (91)
Fredrik Olofsson (42) - Radek Faksa (12) – Ty Dellandrea (10)

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

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

There wasn’t an organized skate on Friday, so lineups are a best bet at this point. Most of the twitter brain trust has Domi slotting in with Seguin and Marchment. Some of us see a defensive hole the size of Fort Worth with that line, but hey - offense.

Colin Miller should draw back in. The Heiskanen Hanley pairing never really worked and there is no reason not to go with the top six for this big matchup.

Oettinger in net - Wedgewood backing, unless he can’t go, in which case Matt Murray. Goaltending will be interesting throughout the organization this weekend, with Texas having a big home series against the Milwaukee Admirals and Idaho playing three in a row against Kansas City.

Colorado Avalanche Lineup

Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Valeri Nichushkin (13)
Evan Rodrigues (9) - J. T. Compher (37) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Lars Eller (20) - Logan O’Connor (25)
Denis Malgin (81) - Alex Newhook (18) - Matt Nieto (83)

Samuel Girard (49) - Devon Toews (7)
Bowen Byram (4) - Josh Manson (42)
Jack Johnson (3) - Kurtis MacDermid (56)

Alexandar Georgiev (40)
Keith Kinkaid

Colorado made a handful of moves at the trade deadline, but nothing earthshattering. Of note, Lars Eller came in from the Washington Capitals for the same cost as Domi. Gabriel Landeskog remains on long-term injured reserve.

Defensively, Cale Makar is likely still out with concussion symptoms. The Avalanche also brought in Jack Johnson as a comfortable option on the teams third pair. Erik Johnson is also out.

Pavel Francouz is out in net, so Kinkaid is the backup option in net. Georgiev will be carrying the load for the foreseeable future.

Keys to the Game

Be Better. After slogging through much of February and early March, the playoff push starts in earnest with the Colorado game. What Dallas has offered lately will not be good enough against top of the league teams.

Integration. The hardest part of the immediate aftermath of the trade deadline is icing a team that takes advantages of the players who have been brought in. Dadonov has fit in well with Benn and Johnston. Utilizing Domi properly may be a bigger challenge.

Oettinger. Big game Jake.