Preview: Jets & Stars Meet with Playoffs in Mind

Though 31 games remain on the Dallas Stars‘ schedule, Thursday’s tilt with the visiting Winnipeg Jets comes with playoff implications.

The teams enter tonight’s game tied with 52 points apiece, though the Stars have two games in hand. They trail the Calgary Flames, holders of the second Wild Card spot, by three points. The playoff race is tight: St. Louis (with 53 points in 50 games) and Vancouver (52 in 50) occupy the narrow ground between the Flames, Stars and Jets. It’s not a stretch to say two points tonight could mean the difference between the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the NHL Draft Lottery.

“I think every team knows that now’s the time to make a push,” said Stars forward Adam Cracknell. “It’s obviously crucial that you don’t want to give away points. I think if we want to make a run, we’ve got two [wins] in a row right now and just have to keep that feeling going, learn from what’s given us success and keep doing it.”

Both the Stars and Jets put two-game win streaks on the line tonight. Could that, combined with the developing playoff picture, ratchet up the intensity of tonight’s divisional contest?

“Yeah, definitely,” said Stephen Johns. “I think our focus coming back from [the All-Star] break is, ‘the playoffs start now’ for us, and we have to get every point we can.” The Stars defenseman added, “Two in a row is big, but we need to get a big win tonight, especially against the guys we’re fighting with.”

Winnipeg Jets at Dallas Stars

American Airlines Center – 7:30 pm CST

Broadcast channels – FS-SW, TSN3

2016-17 Season Series: October 25 – Stars 3, Jets 2

October 27 – Jets 4, Stars 1

November 8 – Jets 8, Stars 2

Winnipeg Jets: 24-25-4  52 Points

Road Record: 11-14-3

Hot Players: Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, Bryan Little, Andrew Copp, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey 

Key Injuries: Drew Stafford, Marko Dano, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot

Projected lines:


Andrew Copp – Mark Scheifele – Blake Wheeler

Nikolaj Ehlers – Bryan Little – Patrik Laine

Shawn Matthias – Adam Lowry – Joel Armia

Mathieu Perreault – Nic Petan – Chris Thorburn


Josh Morrissey – Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom – Jacob Trouba

Mark Stuart – Paul Postma


Ondrej Pavelec


Dallas Stars: 21-20-10 – 52 Points

Home Record: 14-7-6

Hot Players: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Eaves

Key Injuries: Johnny Oduya, Jamie Oleksiak, Mattias Janmark and Ales Hemsky

Projected lines:


Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Patrick Eaves

Devin Shore – Radek Faksa – Patrick Sharp

Antoine Roussel – Tyler Seguin – Jason Spezza

Lauri Korpikoski – Adam Cracknell – Brett Ritchie


Esa Lindell – John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis – Patrik Nemeth

Jordie Benn – Stephen Johns


Kari Lehtonen

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Jets’ lineup gets a boost tonight, as forward Mathieu Perreault returns after missing three games with a broken thumb. For one night, at least, he’ll slot in on the fourth line, with Nic Petan and Chris Thorburn.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] Julius Honka and Curtis McKenzie skated late this morning, so they’ll be healthy scratches for the Stars tonight. Jiri Hudler was nowhere to be found, but the Czech winger told THW last week that he had a baby due sometime this week, so that likely explains his absence.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Perhaps the main reason the Stars and Jets find themselves so close in the standings (and just outside the playoff picture) is an inability to put together a real win streak. The Stars have won three in a row once in 2016-17, while a Jets win tonight would give the visitors their first three-game streak of the season.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] Remarkably, every one of the Jets’ top-six forwards is averaging a point per game (or better) over the last five games. How will the Stars stop them? In the defensive zone, says Johns, it’s important to contain the Jets’ top players by keeping them on the perimeter. Cracknell, on the other hand, stressed the need to avoid turnovers and penalties while pressuring the Jets in the offensive zone.