This Week in Dallas Stars Hockey: Slumping
The struggles continue for the Dallas Stars. How will they respond this week against the Kings, Oilers, and Avalanche?
The Dallas Stars' return to action did not go as planned. Dallas got run out of the building in Anaheim and lost a hard fought game in overtime the next night in San Jose.
The first period in the Ducks game went about as badly as it could have, and Dallas didn't find their legs until halfway through the second period. By then the score was out of reach, and all the team could do was make the final score look respectable.
For all of the line jumbling and preaching about defensive commitment, the slump continues. Sometimes these things happen, and when they do it feels like it is never going to end.
Luckily, the team has three more chances to end the slump this week. Two of games are at home, where the Stars have played well. Nothing like some home cookin'.
Tuesday 1/19/16 - Dallas Stars @ Los Angeles Kings
The first meeting of the year between the Stars and Kings will come at a bad time for Dallas. Just a week ago it would have been a battle between the two division leaders in the Western Conference. Now, the task feels more more daunting for the flummoxed Stars.
Los Angeles has started to pull away in the Pacific, with their lead over the Coyotes swelling to 10 points. The Kings are not as hot at the Blackhawks, but they have only lost in regulation twice in the last 10 games.
There are only two teams in the league that have surrendered less than 100 goals this year - the Capitals and the Kings. The similarities of this team and the Kings teams that won the Cup are striking. They play a heavy game with smart defending, opportunistic offense, and Jonathan Quick.
It is hard to name a "key" to this game without sounding incredibly cliche, but if the Stars don't dictate their pace they could be in for a long night. Falling behind early in this one is not an option. Openings will look different against Los Angeles. Players won't have a few feet to operate, they could have inches. The Stars have the talent make the most of those inches, and the way the Stars skate will reveal those chances.
Thursday 1/21/16 - Edmonton Oilers @ Dallas Stars
The Stars and Oilers have split the season series, each team winning on their own ice. Jordan Eberle ended that last one in overtime when Edmonton won 2-1 in the extra session.
Dallas had 43 shots on Anders Nilsson and only scored once. The game was a classic example of running into a hot goalie in the wrong building. Hats off to Nilsson, he was magnificent. Hopefully he misses the plane to Dallas.
That being said, it is difficult to look at that game as a success if you are an Oilers fan. The stats say it should have been a blowout, and four times out of five it would have been. I am sure Lindy Ruff will be pleased with a similar showing in this game.
The Oilers are the last place team in the Pacific Division with 41 points, seven points out of a playoff spot. Edmonton has surrendered 134 goals this year, third worst such stat in the league. On paper, this looks like a great chance for the Stars to have a "get well" game. However, the Stars have lost to less talented teams this year already. Taking this game lightly would be the worst thing they could do.
Saturday 1/23/16 - Colorado Avalanche @ Dallas Stars
The Avalanche surged into a playoff spot for a few days, only to relinquish it back to the Nashville Predators. The Avs have played well lately and used a seven-game winning streak to jump back into playoff contention. A goal differential that was at one time one of the worst in the league, Colorado has played good hockey for a few weeks in a row.
The mountain is still in front of them, but at least they have put themselves in position to talk about climbing it.
The Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche have played once this season, in Denver. Not surprisingly based on recent history, the Avs won the game. It is a trend that has been enigmatic at times but it seems the Stars just have a hard time with Colorado.
There isn't a common theme in all of the losses to the Avalanche. Some games it has been turnovers, some games Semyon Varlamov has stolen, and some games were good games that someone just had to win. The past is the past, and I don't think Colorado has any sort of mental hex on the Stars.
This game is at the American Airlines Center on a Saturday night, and the place should be buzzing. The team has no back to backs this week and tired legs should not be an excuse. The final push to the All Star break is here, and the Stars need to get their slump turned around before it turns into a slide.