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Playoff Positioning At Stake As Stars Duel Golden Knights

Credit: Tim Heitman / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars took care of business on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. After a sluggish start, the team executed. The top line was dominant and there were contributions up and down the lineup.

Jake Oettinger was great when he needed to be. Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski kept on their heaters – and as expected, Tyler Seguin stepped in seamlessly to fill Roope Hintz’s skates.

All of this is just prelude to Saturday afternoons matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas is on a bit of a heater themselves, going 3-0-1 so far in April, all against teams that are in the middle of playoff pushes.

This game isn’t a playoff game, but there are serious playoff implications. Expect two quality teams treating the game like it matters. Should be fun.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Joel Kiviranta (25) – Max Domi (18) –  Ty Dellandrea (10)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeni Dadonov (63)
Fredrik Olofsson (42) – Radek Faksa (12) – Luke Glendening (11)

Miro Heiskanen (4) – Ryan Suter (20)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Thomas Harley (55) – Colin Miller (6)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

Missing Hintz isn’t ideal, but if its a choice of getting the top line center a little time to be ready for the playoffs, its a good tradeoff. The remaining three games of the season are all against teams that will be done with their season by next Saturday. Depending on nagging injuries, others might need similar breaks to set up what could be a deep playoff run.

Vegas Golden Knights Lineup

Pavel Dorofeyev (16) – Jack Eichel (9) – Jonathan Marchessault (81)
Reilly Smith (19) – William Karlsson (71) – Michael Amadio (22)
Ivan Barbashev (49) – Chandler Stephenson (20) – Phil Kessel (8)
Brett Howden (21) – Nicolas Roy (10) – Keegan Kolesar (55)

Alec Martinez (23) – Alex Pietrangelo (7)
Ben Hutton (17) – Nicolas Hague (14)
Brayden McNabb (3) – Zach Whitecloud (2)

Jonathan Quick (32)
Laurent Brossoit (39)

Vegas is missing a handful of players who, barring injury, would be part of the team. Mark Stone is on long term injured reserve, and would be taking Dorofeyev’s spot on the top line. Likewise, Shea Theodore would replace Ben Hutton in the top four on defense.

Goaltending for the Golden Knights has been a mess all season. Journeyman Brossoit has taken over net duties over the last several games. Quick and Logan Thompson have also seen action, with mixed results. Hard to think that Brossoit is the playoff answer for Vegas, but for now the team has been riding the hot hand.

Keys to the Game

Wake Up. It’s a 2:30 start time, so everyone will have their game day routine thrown off. Good starts have been a key element to the Star’s success this year.

Four Goals. Dallas as scored four or more goals in 13 of their last 18 games since the start of March. Not surprisingly, they’ve only lost two of those games, and have only won one game where they didn’t hit that mark.

Benn-Johnston-Dadonov. For all the feel good stories about the third line, they have been bleeding scoring chances. Through the middle of March, the line was solidly positive in shot share, goal percentage and expected goal percentage. Since then, shot share is 40%, goal percentage is 36% and expected goal percentage is 44%.

Talking Points