The Stars begin their daunting three-game road trip against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. This will be the fourth and final matchup between these two teams, with Dallas taking two of the first three and recording points in each (2-0-1.) All three games have been tight and intense, as the Winnipeg-Dallas rivalry continues to grow.
Stars Are On A Roll
It has been a successful portion of the season for Dallas dating back to the NHL All-Star Game. The Stars have points in four straight games and an overall record of 7-2-1 in their last 10. They have risen from out of the playoffs to within inches of both the first wild card and the third seed in the Central Divison. With a win tonight, Dallas would jump ahead of Nashville into the first wild card spot, something that did not feel possible one month ago.
“We’re going to chase these guys all year,” Rick Bowness said. “We’re in a playoff battle. I know they’re in the other division, but you look at how tight the race is right now with Vegas, us, Anaheim, and Nashville. Somebody’s going to miss the playoffs and have a really good year.”
Holtby Finally Gets His Chance
There has been a lot of watching for Braden Holtby over the past month. The veteran goaltender has played only once in the last 12 games as Jake Oettinger has stolen the show. Holtby has been dealing with a minor injury, so Rick Bowness has continued to ride the young goalie as long as he plays well.
Tonight, however, Holtby returns to the net in what will be a very important game for him and his confidence.
“Clearly, we’re going to get him back in here at some point,” Bowness said recently. “But Jake’s playing really, really well right now. Braden is a pro, and he’s a great character and a great teammate. You can see him at practice working his butt off and when his number is called, he’ll be ready to go.”
Jets Scouting Report
Winnipeg has won two games in a row as they continue scratching and clawing to keep themselves afloat in the playoff race. Currently, they sit seven points out and six points behind Dallas, making Friday’s game that much more important.
“We know how important the points are against Dallas and another divisional game against a team that’s in the wild-card right now, and a team that we’re chasing and we’re going to have to pass if we’re going to get in,” said Jets coach Dave Lowry. “We let a couple slip away down there, so it’s important that we use these swings to your advantage, you come out the right way and have similar starts like we had in the last two games.”
The Jets will receive a boost against Dallas as defenseman Nikolaj Ehlers is set to return to the lineup after missing six games with a concussion.
“I’m ready to go and I talked to the medical staff about it as well,” said Ehlers. “It feels great. Not just being on the ice and practicing with the guys, but being around the guys. A couple weeks alone in Winnipeg while the guys are on the road isn’t as fun as it sounds.”
Kyle Connor still paces the Jets with 61 points in 54 games while Mark Scheifele recently reached the 20-goal mark and is always dangerous against the Stars.
- Tyler Seguin and Miro Heiskanen did not skate this morning — Bowness said both players are ill and will be game-time decisions
- Braden Holtby will start in goal — Holtby is 11-5-4 against Winnipeg in his career
He Said It
“I’d rather see us in the eighth spot than ninth or 10th,” said Stars coach Rick Bowness. “We’re not that far out of third. That’s your next step, to get in and stay in. It’s there, and you’ve got to go get it.”
- Robertson — Hintz — Pavelski
- Benn — Seguin — Gurianov
- Kiviranta — Peterson — Radulov
- Raffl — Faksa — Glendening
- Suter — Heiskanen
- Lindell — Klingberg
- Harley — Hakanpaa
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!