It is Daryl “Razor” Reaugh Bobblehead night at the American Airlines Center as the Dallas Stars return home for one game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Stars & Oilers Tight in Playoff Race
Technically, the Stars are not chasing the Oilers in the playoff race. Edmonton currently sits third in the Pacific Division with 75 points, three points ahead of Vegas for that spot. However, since the fourth-place team in that division will likely drop into the second Wild Card, the Stars need to keep pace with whoever that may be. Right now, Dallas trails Edmonton by four points.
“We are going to be chasing these guys right to the end for a playoff spot,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said this morning. “We have to go up there in April at some point, so these games are huge. It’s getting to the fun part of the season. You are going to be playing these teams and you are going to be battling with them for a playoff spot.”
New Faces in Dallas
There are two new faces in the dressing room for Dallas after the 2022 NHL trade deadline concluded on Monday, Mar. 21. The Stars added some needed depth in goaltender Scott Wedgewood and forward Vladislav Namestnikov in order to bolster their lineup for the playoff push ahead.
“I was excited,” Wedgewood said when asked how he felt about the trade. “A chance to play some meaningful games. I haven’t played on a team much higher than third to last in my career so this will be exciting to be a part of. I know a few guys here so I got to talk to them pretty early on so I am excited for another change.”
Wedgwood will have a fairly simple adjustment as he has a close relationship with Stars players Tyler Seguin, Marian Studenic, Luke Glendening, and Joel Hanley and has gotten used to moving around the league during his career. Although it is very early, he seems to be the perfect fit for this team and this locker room.
“We were Halloween getup together this year, we were Harry and Marv from Home Alone in Jersey,” Wedgewood said about his relationship with former teammate Studenic. “Him and Hanley were two guys I knew outside of Seguin, and [Luke] Glendening and I work out in the summer, so it’s nice to know a couple of faces.”
Namestnikov was delayed in transit to Dallas and will not be available for tonight’s game while Wedgewood will back up Oettinger, although his pads may not match the team uniform.
“It will be ugly for a bit,” Wedgewood laughed when Razor asked him about his gear setup with his new team. “I already have a set sent in to True and I’ve got to get a mask made and sent to Sweden and that takes a couple of weeks, so I will try to make it as pretty as I can.”
Oilers Scouting Report
The Oilers are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night. They have re-found their game after a horrific middle of the season, going 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.
Connor McDavid leads the team and the NHL with 91 points in 62 games. Teammate Leon Draisatl is next on the league list with 87 points in 63 games and sits second to Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals (41).
“Anytime you are playing Draisaitl and McDavid, it is not one guy, it’s a group effort,” Bowness said. “You start playing those guys one on one, you are playing right into their strength. It’s always a group effort. We try to outnumber them, we try to crowd them, we try to slow them down as much as we can. They are elite players.”
Edmonton has a high-flying offense but struggles to keep pucks out of their own net. Goaltenders Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen have been mediocre all season long with a combined save percentage of .900 and a goals-against-average of 3.21.
- Jake Oettinger will start in goal–newcomer Scott Wedgewood will back up
- Vladislav Namestnikov will not play tonight due to travel delays after being traded from Detroit to Dallas at the trade deadline
- Braden Holtby has been added to the LTIR retroactive to Mar. 8
He Said It
“It’s playoff hockey right now,” Bowness said. “Until we get that little X by our name, it’s playoff hockey.”
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!