Devils Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars – 01/25/22

It is a new day, but the mission remains the same; for the New Jersey Devils to get back in the win column. Tuesday’s opponent is the Dallas Stars, who are fifth in the Central Division with 44 points. Despite a fantastic performance on Saturday night, head coach Lindy Ruff’s team couldn’t get the best of the Los Angeles Kings and suffered their 20th loss of the season. The Devils will wrap up a four-game homestand tonight and are 1-2.

The last time New Jersey and Dallas met was last February when the Devils lost to the visiting Stars 3-2 in overtime. Kevin Rooney and Nico Hischier scored for the Devils while Damon Severson led the team with a little over 24 minutes of ice time, and veteran forward Joe Pavelski scored the game-winner with 3:21 left in overtime. The Stars have won the last three matchups. Here’s a look at the storylines ahead of today’s game.

2 Storylines: Dallas Stars (21-16-2)

The Stars Are Searching For Their Fourth Straight Win

Dallas will arrive in Newark as one of the hottest teams in the league after winning their last three games. A win against New Jersey would mean a perfect 4-0 road trip with victories over the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and Philadelphia Flyers. Pavelski has been leading the way with 44 points in 39 games, including seven power-play goals while youngster Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz each have 30-plus points as part of a very dangerous top line.

Related: Stars Look For Change of Fate On Upcoming Road Trip

Ahead of the road trip, Tyler Seguin met with the media and expressed the need for his team to get back on track after three consecutive losses, including a 5-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, before this road trip.

“Hopefully, this is just a blessing in disguise in a way. That we have no choice but to get our act straight on the road coming up, going on a long road trip here,” Seguin said. “There’s no excuses. We’re getting down to not do or die, but the urgency has to be very high.”

Tyler Seguin Dallas Stars
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While they did not face any contending teams on this trip, their mission was accomplished as they are now in a position to jump into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Dallas is Finishing Up a Back-to-Back

Much like the Devils on Sunday night, the Stars will play their second of back-to-back games on Tuesday after facing the Flyers last night. This is Dallas’ eighth back-to-back this season and their fourth this month, so fatigue could be a factor in the second and third periods.

After last night’s game, Stars head coach Rick Bowness told the media that even though he liked their defensive play, the team can play better than that. They relied on the Ryan Suter and Miro Heiskanen pairing, who each played over 26 minutes. Every player but three on the roster registered a shot on goal, and the Stars finished with 36 shots. They have also fired off 115 shots on this road trip, which might be tricky for the Devils, who have not received strong goaltending this season.

2 Storylines: New Jersey Devils (15-20-5)

Mackenzie Blackwood is Back on Injured Reserve

Mackenzie Blackwood has been dealing with a heel injury since training camp. He has tried to battle through it, but his numbers this season show he’s been struggling. Before Sunday’s game, Ruff addressed the media and said his goaltender’s left heel is something that they have been dealing with for a while. This morning, the Devils announced that he has been placed on injured reserve, and they recalled Akira Schmid from the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Schmid has appeared in three games for New Jersey this season and has a goals-against average of 4.41 and a .851 save percentage. The 21-year-old made his NHL debut on Dec. 11, 2021, against the New York Islanders, allowing four goals on 29 shots. Ruff did not confirm his starting goaltender, but it could be Jon Gillies, who has started the last two games.

Kuokkanen to Play in his 100th Career NHL Game

Devils Forward Janne Kuokkanen is expected to suit up for his 100th career NHL game tonight against the Stars. The 23-year-old was part of the trade that sent Sami Vatanen to the Carolina Hurricanes. Last season, he appeared in 50 games and finished with 25 points (8 goals, 17 assists). This season, the 6-foot-1 winger has nine points and has been mostly utilized as a bottom-six forward. He has become an excellent penalty killer and is one of three players to score a short-handed goal this season.

Players to Watch

New Jersey Devils: Damon Severson

Severson has been the backbone of the Devils defense this season, averaging 23 minutes of ice time per game. He has helped ease the loss of Dougie Hamilton and has become the quarterback on the first power-play unit. Considering Dallas has a top line that has combined for 116 points, the Devils will rely heavily on both Severson and his partner Jonas Siegenthaler.

Dallas Stars: Joe Pavelski

Pavelski has historically played well against New Jersey and has points in eight-straight matchups and 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in 21 career games. At 37, he does not appear to be slowing down and considering he plays in all situations, the Devils’ defense will have to make shutting both him and his linemates down a priority.

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