Stars back at it against physical Wild

It’s back to the road (for a day at least) and the divisional grind. Dallas is home for Saturday, but Friday night in Minnesota should be wild.

It’s only been a bit over a week since the Dallas Stars took out the Minnesota Wild, 4-1 in Dallas. It was a physical game, showing Jamie Benn at his best - not only scoring the opening goal but also turning the Wild’s physical game into a head game, with Benn getting the last laugh.

Dallas is headed into the first game of a back-to-back, with travel, but they’ve only played two games in the last eight days. Minnesota has four games played during that same stretch.

After facing the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins, the Stars are heading into a stretch where the competition is a bit less dominant. On the other hand, this is a Division matchup against a team that is fighting for a playoff spot and is desperate for a win on an extended homestand.

After a physical tilt in Dallas, this game feels like it may ratchet up even further.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Mason Marchment (27) – Radek Faksa (12) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Fredrik Karlstrom (51) - Luke Glendening (11) – Denis Gurianov (34)

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

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

Fredrik Karlstrom gets the call-up from Texas. This is his second time with Dallas this year, and the first time he should see something other than the press box. Marian Studenic was as energetic as you would have expected, but Karlstrom brings some additional size and loads of intangibles.

Complain all you want about Faksa centering Seguin and Marchment, but per NaturalStatTrick, the line when together is sporting a solid 54.66 expected goals for percentage.

Minnesota Wild Lineup

Kirill Kaprizov (97) - Ryan Hartman (38) - Mats Zuccarello (36)
Adam Beckman (53) - Joel Eriksson Ek (14) - Matthew Boldy (12)
Jordan Greenway (18) - Frederick Gaudreau (89) - Brandon Duhaime (21)
Mason Shaw (15) - Connor Dewar (26) - Ryan Reaves (75)

Jacob Middleton (5) - Jared Spurgeon (46)
Alex Goligoski (33) - Matt Dumba (24)
Jon Merrill (4) - Calen Addison (2)

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

The lineup for the Wild has changed significantly over the last week. One primary driver is the result of Marcus Foligno taking a puck off the inside of the knee earlier this week against the Florida Panthers.

Another factor has to be the lack of offense since the team returned from the All-Star break. Since then, the Wild are 1-4-1 and haven’t scored more than two goals in regulation in any single game. Throw in an abundance of penalties, and you have a solid losing formula.

The Wild also called up 21 year old rookie Adam Beckman - a top scoring winger from the Iowa Wild. Sam Steel draws out.

Gustavsson is expected to handle goaltending duties.

Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, the Wild put up over 40 shots, but still only netted two. Fleury let in three of nineteen to take the loss. Head Coach Dean Evason rode his to lines and pairs hard, with multiple players logging minutes in the mid-twenties.

Keys to the Game

Keep the pedal down. The Wild are working their way into a season defining hole. A few more tough loses before the trade deadline, and the team will have some difficult buy or sell decisions to make. Don’t be that team that lets them turn their season around.

Controlled physicality. Learn from the Captain. A laugh gets in their head just as easily (if not more so) than a fist.

Depth Scoring. The Wild have only been getting goals from their top players. The Stars saw their top players return to the scoresheet big against the Bruins. Down the lineup, Dallas has been getting contributions - and assuming the top lines cancel out, the middle six for Dallas can make the difference (predict Mason Marchment or Denis Gurianov goal?).