It is only a brief stop but the Dallas Stars return home to host the New York Rangers in front of a sold-out crowd on Saturday night. It is first responders night at the American Airlines Center and the Stars will sport special St. Patrick’s Day jerseys during warmups as well. Following the game, Dallas will embark on yet another lengthy road trip in this road-heavy month of March.
Stars Want to Keep on Rollin
The Stars have points in six of their last seven games and have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL since the All-Star break. Their push has launched them into a playoff spot and into contention for some of the higher seeds in the Western Conference.
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“We’re in the hunt and there are 10 or 11 teams fighting for two spots right now,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said. “Until you get in that top six, the three in the division on each side, it’s iffy if you are going to get in. There are a lot of good teams, there is going to be two or three teams that have really good years and miss, and we are not planning on that happening to us.”
Currently, Dallas sits in the final playoff spot in the West, three points behind Nashville (with one game in hand) for the first wild card, and just five points back of Minnesota for the third seed in the Central Division. However, they also have Edmonton nipping at their heels only one point behind, so there is no time to get comfortable.
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“Not so much about maintaining where we are, it’s all about who’s next to try to catch,” Tyler Seguin said. “We’re now right around Nashville and that’s been the goal for a while here. We were many points back a few weeks ago, you’ve got to keep looking at them and trying to pass them fully and then you look at St. Louis, you look at home-ice advantage in the first round. The goals and the bar keep getting set higher and higher and that’s the expectations for this group anyway.”
Seguin’s 800th Game
Tonight is a milestone for Tyler Seguin, who will play in his 800th career NHL game. He played 203 games for the Boston Bruins and has now played 596 in Dallas. In 799 games, Seguin has tallied 298 goals and 370 assists for 668 points (.84 points per game). He ranks eighth in Stars franchise history in points and needs just two more points to tie Sergei Zubov for seventh.
“I think 800 just means you’re 200 from 1000, or you are getting older,” Seguin joked.
Rangers Scouting Report
The Rangers are one of the surprise teams of the 2021-22 NHL season. While many believed they were still in the middle of a rebuild, they have performed like a Stanley Cup contender instead. Currently, they sit in the third spot in the Metropolitan Division, trailing Pittsburgh by only two points.
“When you play out West here, you don’t see a ton of the East,” Seguin said. “So there’s guys that you have to talk about more. You’ve got to talk about Panarin and how gifted he is, a guy like Kreider and how fast he is and how talented he is around the net. You’ve got to talk about these players more because they are so gifted and because we might not be used to them out here.”
Chris Kreider leads the Rangers and ranks second in the NHL with 38 goals. In just 58 games, he has shattered his previous career-high of 28 and is one point away from his 400th career NHL point.
However, the real strength of this team comes in the form of 26-year-old goaltender, Igor Shesterkin. The Russian netminder leads the league in both goals-against average (2.02) and save percentage (.939), pushing his team to victory in 28 of his 38 starts this season.
“Incredible goaltender that no matter what, you’ve got to be cliche with him and get in front of him and maybe since he’s a smaller goalie, we might be getting pucks up,” Seguin said.
- Jake Oettinger will start in net
- Braden Holtby will not be available to backup due to injury–Adam Scheel will play that role tonight
- Jacob Peterson returns to the lineup after missing the last two games–Riley Tufte comes out
- Miro Heiskanen will be out indefinitely with mono
- Andrej Sekera is closing in on his return but will not play tonight
He Said It
“We are playing a team that has lost a couple but we are playing a very good hockey club,” Bowness said. “We are going on a four-game road trip coming up and we only have three more home games this month, so it’s very important we take care of home ice. I keep telling our players; our best hockey is coming.”