The Dallas Stars take on the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night in a game with massive playoff implications…for one side.
Dallas Can Clinch Once Again
The Stars defeated the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night but did so in a shootout, eliminating their chance to clinch a playoff berth. However, the two points did put them in a spot where a single point over their final two games would be enough to push them into the final 16.
“We need one point,” Rick Bowness said. “We have got to play better. That was a good hockey team tonight [Tuesday] and that was a hell of a hockey game. Our fans were fantastic and we love the atmosphere tonight. Still, we have some guys that can play better.”
While Arizona is far from a playoff spot, there are no easy games in the NHL, especially for Dallas. The Stars have struggled against lesser opponents this season and are 1-1 against the Coyotes.
“Tomorrow [Wednesday] night is not going to be any easier, right?” Robertson said after Tuesday’s win. “I think they just beat Minnesota so anyone can beat anyone in the league. We just have to come out with that same intensity, try to take the lead, and try to take that game over. We need that win more than they do.”
Wedgewood to Play His Former Team
Scott Wedgewood will get the crease tonight against his former club. Wedgewood spent two separate stints with Arizona between 2017-2022. In one of his final games with the Yotes, he shut the door on Dallas, making 32 saves on 33 shots in a 3-1 victory. For the Stars, he has been exactly what they had hoped when they acquired him at the trade deadline. In six starts, the 29-year-old is 3-1-2 with a 2.92 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.
“He wants to prove that he is a National Hockey League goalie and that he can play in big games,” Bowness said. “He has played very well, he is a great teammate, a great worker, a great guy to be around. He is a very competitive guy when you put him in the net. He knows that the opportunity we are giving him is one that can strengthen his career and he has certainly taken advantage of that. We are going to need a big game from tonight.”
Coyotes Scouting Report
The Coyotes have been out of the playoff hunt for quite some time. They sit 31st in the NHL with a 23-50-7 record and have a tough 13-23-4 road resume. On top of that, they have been playing poorly as they close out the season, holding a 1-7-2 record in their last 10 games. In their most recent game, however, they shocked a strong Minnesota Wild team that was fighting for home-ice advantage in their first-round matchup. The victory ended a 10-game losing streak for Arizona and they will likely come into this game with the same mindset: to spoil their opponents’ party.
“We came here to play a really good team,” Coyotes head coach André Tourigny said following their victory over the Wild. “The guys were well prepared with the level of focus of our team. We knew how they were going to attack, we tried to break their tendencies and momentum and we did a really good job. Give a lot of credit to our guys. They fought hard.”
Clayton Keller has led the way statistically for the Yotes, tallying 28 goals and 63 points this season. In net, Karel Vejmelka is coming off of a 30-save victory against Minnesota and has started 51 games on the year (13-32-3, 3.60 goals-against average, .900 save percentage.)
- Scott Wedgewood will start in goal against his former team
- Bowness said there will be lineup changes but did not hint at what those will be. We will find out when the team hits the ice for warm-ups.
He Said It
“This is a very respectable opponent, do not get fooled by the standings, we tell them that every game no matter what,” Bowness said. “This time of year, they are playing loose, trying to score goals, and get a job next year. We have to make sure our structure, our compete, and our team game is in place. We can’t get into the type of game they want to play.”
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!