The Dallas Stars host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night for the second time in 10 days. The previous meeting, a 5-4 Wild win, proved incredibly entertaining for the fans. For the Stars players, not so much.
“We liked our compete and the way we fought back into it,” said Stars rookie Devin Shore. “But we can’t have that start again. I think that’s a pretty obvious point.”
Shore complimented the Wild, calling them “one of the best teams in the league” and praising their consistency. The speedy forward then circled back to stress the need for his own club to get off to a better start tonight.
“I mean, to go down like that against any team in this league, it’s a really tall task to come back,” said Shore, adding, “If we have a good start, we know we can compete and protect our home ice.”
The hill is steeper for the Stars tonight than it was the last time the Wild visited, as the home club will be without the services of Johnny Oduya and Radek Faksa this time around. Both are out with lower-body injuries and will be missed, but Faksa’s absence hurts the most.
“It’s a big adjustment,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff of losing Faksa, who’s rapidly evolved into the club’s top faceoff man and penalty killer. “It’s a hole that somebody else is going to have to fill. It’s going to be a tough task for any player that has to step in, especially in the penalty-killing role.”
The Wild’s road power play is ranked 25th, while the Stars’ home penalty kill (with Faksa) is 18th. Given their shorthanded struggles even with the Czech forward in the lineup, staying out of the penalty box should be a focus for the Stars Tuesday night.
Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
American Airlines Center – 7:30 pm CST
Broadcast channels – FS-SW, FS-N, FS-WI
2016-17 Season Series: October 29 – Wild 4, Stars 0
November 21 – Stars 3, Wild 2 (OT)
January 14 – Wild 5, Stars 4
Minnesota Wild: 30-11-5 – 65 Points
Road Record: 14-5-5
Hot Players: Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville and Erik Haula
Key Injuries: Jonas Brodin, Victor Bartley
Mikael Granlund – Mikko Koivu – Jason Zucker
Zach Parise – Eric Staal – Charlie Coyle
Jason Pominville – Erik Haula – Nino Niederreiter
Chris Stewart – Tyler Graovac – Jordan Schroeder
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella – Matt Dumba
Mike Reilly – Nate Prosser
Dallas Stars: 19-20-9 – 47 Points
Home Record: 12-7-5
Hot Players: Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves
Key Injuries: Radek Faksa, Johnny Oduya, Jamie Oleksiak, Mattias Janmark and Ales Hemsky
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Devin Shore – Jason Spezza – Patrick Sharp
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Lauri Korpikoski
Curtis McKenzie – Adam Cracknell – Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell – John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis – Patrik Nemeth
Jordie Benn – Stephen Johns
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] In their roller-coaster 5-4 loss last time around, the Stars faced Wild backup goalie Darcy Kuemper. On Tuesday, Devan Dubnyk starts for the visitors. Dubnyk has put up fantastic numbers this season, earning a spot in this weekend’s NHL All-Star Game. He’s been rather mortal in his last three starts, however, allowing a total of 10 goals in those games.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] With Faksa out, Ruff indicated Shore would move back to center from the wing he’s played of late. Ruff said the rookie was originally moved to wing to bolster the top-six, and the coach was pleased with the result. When asked his preference — center or wing — Shore replied simply, “Either way is good with me.”
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Though Minnesota’s 7-2-1 record in January is impressive on the surface, some of the underlying numbers are cause for concern: The Wild have allowed three or more goals in each of their last four games, and four or more in five of their last 10.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] Tuesday’s contest is the fourth meeting of the season between the Stars and Wild. They’ll face off one more time this season, in Minnesota on Feb. 16. Though the Wild are all but guaranteed a playoff spot already, the Stars’ season hangs in the balance. The next time these clubs meet, the Stars could be gearing up for a playoff run or re-tooling for next season. For better or worse, the next 10 games likely will decide the season for Dallas.
Matt blogged about all things hockey at On Goal Analysis/The OGA Blogs from 2008-2014 and has written several travel articles for The Dallas Morning News. He began covering the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers for The Hockey Writers in August 2015. Matt is also writing a biography of “Tex” Rickard, the Texas cowboy who founded the New York Rangers and the Madison Square Garden Corporation.