Ed Sarno The Hockey Writers
The Dallas Stars Week Ahead
Local Dallas-Fort Worth meteorologists are predicting the area’s first freeze this week. Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and their fans also know “Winter is Coming.” So far this season, the Stars’ play has resulted in a mediocre record (10-10-6). They continue to accumulate a list of battle wounds that would make Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin envious.
Patrick Sharp is back on injured reserve due to more concussion symptoms, while Johnny Oduya has been out with a lower-body injury and Jiri Hudler continues to miss time due to illness. Meanwhile, Mattias Janmark (knee) and Ales Hemsky (hip) also remain sidelined.
Despite the injuries, the Stars remain a dangerous team. After battling an 11-game goal scoring drought, Tyler Seguin has now scored in back-to-back games. The Stars also exorcised significant demons Saturday night beating the Avalanche 3-0 in Colorado. Going into the game, the Stars were 1-8 in their last nine trips to the Pepsi Center.
They will look to build on that victory with some home cooking, as the Stars host seven of their next nine games at the American Airlines Center — where they have a 6-3-2 record this season. A successful home stand could be what helps vault them back into a comfortable playoff spot. Here is a quick preview of the Stars upcoming schedule.
On Tuesday, the Calgary Flames will visit the AAC. They own a three-game winning streak and are two points ahead of Dallas in the standings. Former Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan will be behind the Flames’ bench. The Flames are a young team and should get a boost from the recent return of forward Johnny Gaudreau, who was re-signed this offseason to a long-term contract extension.
The Flames goaltending situation has been a bit of a surprise, as they added veteran goaltender Brian Elliott this offseason, but he’s struggled early on in 2016-17. However, journeyman backup Chad Johnson has played really well, seemingly wrestling the starting job away from Elliott.
The Nashville Predators will travel to Dallas for a Thursday night matchup which will feature another team with 26 points. The Predators rocked the hockey world this summer with the surprising trade of their former captain Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for dynamic defenseman P.K. Subban.
It has been a tale of two teams for Nashville this season. At home they have been dominant, with only two regulation losses (8-2-2), but outside of Music City they have been more like The Gong Show with just three road wins (3-7-2).
The Stars will hit the road next weekend and make their first stop against the Philadelphia Flyers at high noon on Saturday. Behind second year head coach Dave Hakstol, the Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the NHL.
The game will likely feature former Jeff Reese protege, Steve Mason, in net for the Flyers. Mason has been very complimentary of the work Reese did with him and the Stars hope Reese will find similar success, now in his second season working with Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi as the Stars goaltending coach.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Stars as they have a date with Patrick Kane and company at 6 PM CST the following night in Chicago. Despite what has become an annual tradition of dealing with offseason salary cap challenges, the Blackhawks lead the Western Conference with 35 points (16-8-1) and have only lost two games in regulation at home (10-2-2) this season.
The Blackhawks have been dealing with their own injuries recently. Jonathan Toews has been out with a back injury, while starting goaltender Corey Crawford was recently placed on injured reserve after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.
The Stars will follow up their road trip by returning home to host the Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings, during a five-game home stand before Christmas.
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