High Noon Showdown for Stars against Lightning

At the back end of the home stand, the competition ratchets up again. Its young(ish) Dallas versus aging Tampa Bay in another national broadcast.

The Dallas Stars beat the Minnesota Wild at their own game on Monday night. It was a physical encounter, but Jamie Benn had the first goal and the last laugh as each of the top three lines scored while keeping the Wild top trio in check.

Jake Oettinger was his usual self, stopping the easy ones and coming up big when it looked like the Wild might be picking themselves up off the ice. Mason Marchment earned an assist for the second straight game, giving signs that there might be an end to his extended scoring drought.

Marchment does need to return to his early season form, since he seems to be the lone Star remaining who hasn’t read the memo regarding taking unnecessary penalties. In fact, he’s gotten to the point where he’s catching the referee’s eye for infractions that others might get away with (OK, let’s not talk about Miro Heiskanen and “cross-checking”). Could be he needs to take a lesson from Benn, laughing as he skates away.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been good for long enough, and with a core group that the team has locked in for a while, you forget how old the team is getting. Only three players on the current roster aren’t eligible for unrestricted free agency when their current contract is due. Watching the Lightning try to rebuild around their superstars over the next few years will be interesting.

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)
Marian Studenic (43) - 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)

There wasn’t too much to dislike about the results against Minnesota. Saddle up the same posse.

Tampa Bay Lightning Lineup

Steven Stamkos (91) - Brayden Point (21) - Nikita Kucherov (86)
Brandon Hagel (38) - Anthony Cirelli (71) - Alex Killorn (17)
Ross Colton (79) - Patrick Maroon (14)
Vladislav Namestnikov (90) - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41) - Corey Perry (10)

Victor Hedman (77) - Zach Bogosian (24)
Mikhail Sergachev (98) - Erik Cernak (81)
Ian Cole (28) - Nick Perbix (48)
Cal Foote (52)

Andrei Vasilevskiy (88)
Brian Elliott (1)

Third line center, Nick Paul, missed Thursday nights 5-0 shutout over the Colorado Avalanche after leaving the previous game against the San Jose Sharks. The Lightning rolled out eight defenders, and without a call-up, they will likely do the same against the Stars.

The top two lines have skill and have no problem scoring. Down the lineup, it’s been a different story - although Perry is still getting his in the crease and on the power play.

Vasilevskiy has taken most of the starts, but Elliott has been excellent in a backup role.

Keys to the Game

Wake up. Bodies weren’t meant to play hockey at noon (thanks national TV).

Believe. This is the team that beat Dallas in the Stanley Cup Final a few years ago. The Stars are deeper now, and running a more challenging offense and has depth. You could (and should) argue that Dallas is the better team.

Skate. Tampa Bay has size on defense, but can be limited in their mobility. This may be the game for the Stars to show off their speed. Hello Hintz, Gurianov and even Studenic.