The Stars kick of the third game in a five-game home stand tonight with another battle against the Minenesota Wild. The two teams faced off Monday night in a match that ended with the Wild up 7-4 over the Stars with the final horn.
Tonight’s game could easily be much of the same. The Wild will undoubtedly be thoroughly energized and looking to stretch a seven-game win streak to eight, while the Stars are still struggling to find steady success on home ice. Tonight is also the final match between these two teams in the regular season. Another win by Minnesota would be a full sweep for the Wild this season.
Not only will Minnesota’s win streak extension fan the flame of the Wild, the final outcome of Wednesday night’s game, a come-from-behind-win, will be fresh in each players mind.
The Stars are still on the defensive struggle, and Monday’s game was proof. Turnovers at the blue line, a significant lack of presence in front of Kari Lehtonen and an inability to step in when the Big Fin was in trouble must be resolved if this team wants to make it to the playoffs.
Zach Parise will be the biggest target Dallas needs to pay significant attention to. Parise scored the only goal in the first match between the teams in January. He was also responsible for two goals and an assist in Monday night’s game.
Jaromir Jagr will undoubtedly still be on the lookout for what has become the ellusive assist to hit 1,000 for his career. Jagr was also responsible for one of Monday night’s goals.
The Stars are also very obviously still struggling with a lack of leadership since the departure of Brenden Morrow, and hopefully tonight will provide some insight into who may be in line to fill the former-captain’s skates. If no one steps up, it’s safe to say the Stars cut the head off their own snake.
More importantly, Dallas seems plagued by players who don’t seem too keen on playing their assigned positions, especially on defense. Defensemen play like forwards, leaving unassuming forwards who don’t play a physical game at the blue line to fend off breakaways and three-on-two rushes. And at the other end of the ice, Lehtonen either gets left to his own defenses or left stuck out of the net watching his defensemen flailing like fish out of water. It’s time for the rubber to meet the road with the defense on this team. With the trade deadline approaching, there’s no reason for the outlook of the Dallas Stars leadership to be any less than perform or leave.
The puck drops tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest.