The Edmonton Oilers will pay a visit to the Dallas Stars on Monday night. Edmonton brings in one of the hottest streaks in the NHL at the moment, leaving Dallas with a tall task. As a result, this could end up being a prove it game for the Stars.
The Dallas Stars will play their 28th game of the 2018-19 season tonight when they welcome the Edmonton Oilers to the American Airlines Center. In other words, the season is around one-third of the way finished.
When a team reaches these kinds of markers in a regular season, a few questions always seem to arise. First, do they have a winning record? Second, are they currently on the rise, decline, or somewhere in the middle? And finally, are they sitting in a playoff spot at the moment? Even though there are still more than 50 games remaining in the year, playoff position always seems to matter.
So, let’s answer these questions out of order. First off, the Dallas Stars have a winning record. They are 14-10-3 with 31 points on the year. They also currently own the first wild card spot in the Western Conference and sit just three points out of third place in the Central division.
But what about that second question? Are the Stars streaking, dropping, or caught in the middle? The opinions may differ a little bit on this one, but it’s fair to say that they are still caught in the middle.
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While Dallas is currently riding a two-game win streak, they are 3-3-1 in their past seven games. In other words, certain average elements still linger in their game.
Now, those average attributes can be blamed on a few things. Injuries have played a major role in keeping the Stars from breaking out, though they have remained in the fight even while shorthanded. There’s also the growing process that the Stars endured through the first few weeks as Jim Montgomery acquainted himself and his style with the NHL and his new team.
But, now is the time where NHL teams have to stand up or ship out. December is the ultimate proving ground for hockey teams, leaving them in need of meeting expectations. The Dallas Stars have to meet those expectations starting now if they are going to remain in the playoff hunt and continue ascending.
And what better time to start than the present? With the Oilers coming into town tonight, the Stars have a chance to pick up a third straight win and continue generating momentum going into a three-day break. But it won’t be an easy task.
Edmonton comes to town looking for their fourth win in a row. They are starting to pick up speed after a slow start to the year. Part of that is due to Ken Hitchcock’s presence in the locker room.
After being hired two weeks ago, Hitchcock has the Oilers on a 4-1-1 stretch. Their defense is only giving up 2.17 goals against per game, their penalty killing unit is rolling, and the team is finding ways to grind out victories. One of those victories came last week against the Stars in a 1-0 overtime finish.
Oil On Whyte
As a result, the Oilers are 13-11-2 with 28 points and sit just two points out of the playoff picture. So, two big points are on the line for the Oilers tonight as well.
And that’s where the pressure comes in for the Dallas Stars.
For the Stars, this is a team that they have already met up with once this year (just six days ago). The Oilers got the best of Dallas, shutting them out on offense and slipping away with an overtime goal to claim the two points. To date, it’s the only loss that the Stars have suffered against a Pacific division team this season.
It’s their second time going up against Mikko Koskinen, who posted the 28-save shutout against Dallas last Tuesday. Koskinen made some timely saves against some of the Stars’ top forwards throughout the game and earned first star honors. He’s 8-2-1 on the season with a .928 save percentage and 2.15 goals against average.
This is yet another “prove it” game for the Stars. As reinforcements grow closer to their respective returns, this is a chance for Dallas to pick up two important points that will keep the team running as they approach a three-day break.
It’s an opportunity to bounce back and outdo a team that already defeated them once. Losing to a team happens, but only good teams know how to respond from defeat.
They can continue testing their power play against a strong PK standard and put their offense up against a goaltender that has their number. This game not only gives the Stars a chance to bounce back into third place in the division, but also to keep Edmonton further out from a wild card spot.
With Blake Comeau out of the lineup due to his wife entering labor and Anton Khudobin starting in net, the stage is set for a big test for the Stars. But if they can keep their momentum going and defeat a revamped Oilers squad, it will be yet another impressive chapter in the Stars’ forward progression.
Let’s see what game 28 has in store.