Round 1, Game 2 Preview: Minnesota Wild @ Dallas Stars
After opening loss, the last thing the Stars need is to change course.
There's been enough said about the happenings on Monday night. A 3-2 double overtime loss is how it looks where it counts. Right now, that is food for thought for the off-season, or perhaps motivation for moving forward.
The Dallas Stars scored on the power play. That won't be sufficient. The Minnesota Wild stifled the Stars rush attack, forcing them into the puck possession grind. It's something that Dallas can do, but outside of the first line, it isn't something that has driven scoring.
So two decisions to make. First, who steps onto the top line and what happens to the top nine. Tyler Seguin is the obvious choice with Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson. Second, which healthy scratch draws in: Joel Kiviranta or Fredrik Olofsson. Easy, and most likely, answer is Kiviranta.
Dallas Stars Lineup
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Mason Marchment (27) - Max Domi (18) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Evgeni Dadonov (63)
Joel Kiviranta (25) - Radek Faksa (12) - Luke Glendening (11)
Ryan Suter (20) – Miro Heiskanen (4)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Thomas Harley (55) - Colin Miller (6)
Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)
Tufte isn't likely to get any icetime, but with Texas waiting for the AHL Central Division play-in round, Tufte getting time as a black ace works for both teams.
There was enough good at 5x5 for the Stars to roll out the same lines. Kiviranta has experience on the fourth line, and Dellandrea has had his moments with Marchment and Domi.
If things aren't working out, don't be surprised if Faksa gets moved up to the second line.
Minnesota Wild Lineup
Kirill Kaprizov (97) - Ryan Hartman (38) - Mats Zuccarello (36)
Marcus Johansson (90) - Frederick Gaudreau (89) - Matthew Boldy (12)
Marcus Foligno (17) - Sam Steel (13) - Gustav Nyquist (28)
Brandon Duhaime (21) - Connor Dewar (26) - Ryan Reaves (75)
Jacob Middleton (5) - Jared Spurgeon (46)
Jonas Brodin (25) - Matt Dumba (24)
Jon Merrill (4) - Brock Faber (7)
Filip Gustavsson (32)
Marc-Andre Fleury (29)
The Wild have to be feeling good. They got contributions down the lineup, and Merrill and especially Faber held their own as a third pair. Likewise, Gustavsson made the saves he was expected to, and stood on his head when he needed to.
For all the talk in the national media, the fourth line got caved in. Playing the body may be the Minnesota strategy, but the only way that it works long term is if they sucker Dallas into a physical game of one-upmanship.
Keys to the Game
Speed. Game one was a slog. Dallas is at its best when they get up ice with pace. If you notice the Stars moving fast, its a sign that they've broken through.
Play the Game. There wasn't anything from game one that should change what Dallas is trying to do on the ice. I suppose "finish" might also work - the opportunities are there.
Ignore the Hype. The media (and Minnesota) want to focus on a narrative that pushes old school, physical hockey. If you're ESPN, you know that the average modern hockey fan is already watching the skill on display in the Edmonton Oilers/Los Angeles Kings matchup. What the network wants is a way to catch the old school fan - and as a media company, you sell the "manly" old school game.