Radical times call for radical measures. Following their defeat this past weekend at the hands of their 2019-2020 arch nemesis, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Dallas Stars find themselves in the cellar in the Central Division. Before you mention it, the Stars are hardly here due to lack of games played (16) any longer. That gap being just three games between Tampa Bay and Dallas, currently.
While you might argue that the Detroit Red Wings have served more games (24) and thus should be leading the Stars in divisional points. Dallas is here, in part, of their own performance. Detroit carries eight more losses across eight more games played. Nashville, the same, with five more games played and five losses.
February was not a month to write home about. Dallas went twenty-two days between victories and walked away with a record of 2-5-3. Despite numerous calls from head coach Rick Bowness and veterans alike to seize their identity, there was little to be thankful for in the end.
Following the defeat on Saturday, to round out the month of February, defenseman John Klingberg had the following to say.
"We know how good a team we are, and we need all 20 guys. It has to come down to coming prepared, and wanting to be a difference-maker out there. No matter what role you have, you’ve got to step up and be able to bring something to the team."
This got us thinking here at Blackout Dallas.
What role would we assign to each offensive character as Dallas once again meets Tampa Bay on Tuesday. What would they be? We will let the following data sets do the talking.
Line 1 –
Jamie Benn – Radek Faksa – Denis Gurianov
You might immediately notice this is an identical line from the Dallas Stars first consecutive lineup games on the 24th and 25th of February versus the Florida Panthers. You might also note the Stars lost both games. However, any other outcomes are slim to pick at the moment.
This pairing put Jamie Benn back into the goals column in that second matchup with the Panthers above and tallied two points for Radek Faksa. What it did not do was fire Denis Gurianov’s offensive engines back up. Last year’s team leader in goals attempted two shots on goal in the Panthers series, to bring his five game total to four.
Plan: Maximize Faksa’s face-off opportunities (8th in the NHL for those over 100 wins), Benn to serve as alternate on the draw. Without Alexander Radulov, Faksa and Benn are two of the Stars best weapons net front. Park it. Make it a priority to get Gurianov shooting lanes with some traffic in front. Given a small sample size, this line has been the clubs third best xGF/60 (Expected Goals For per 60 Minutes) creator on the season at 2.56.
Line 2 –
Roope Hintz – Joe Pavelski – Jason Robertson
This might come as a surprise to you but Roope Hintz is the skater that Joe Pavelski spent the most time on ice with last season. They shared the ice for 271.6 minutes. Clocking in next was Alexander Radulov with 175.3 minutes served.
While Pavelski and Robertson would be newcomers to one another, Captain America has unequivocally shown he still has the legs to skate the entire rink this season, youngsters in tow. Hintz and Robertson were part of the explosive line with Gurianov that shares the clubs highest xGF (Expected Goals For) statistic of the season at 2.6.
Plan: Hintz and Pavelski spent the majority of their minutes last season alongside Gurianov or Matias Janmark. Robertson is not so different from either, both having a knack to lean towards their offensive potential than the full 200 feet of ice before them. Already shown a spark alongside Hintz, the ability of Pavelski to position himself correctly on both sides of center ice could open up Robertson for additional scoring chances.
Line 3 –
Andrew Cogliano – Justin Dowling – Blake Comeau
No strangers to one another, Cogliano and Comeau would likely default this line to take opening tip-off against Tampa Bay on Tuesday. They proved in Florida to be equally annoying, disruptive on the ice without Faksa under center.
Dowling and Cogliano spent time on the ice last season but Comeau and Dowling would be newcomers to one another. However, with nearly 600 minutes on the ice together over the past two seasons, Cogliano and Comeau can likely make any third body work as little effort is required from the two in anticipating the movement of one another.
Plan: EAT ICE TIME. All three are not likely to be bodies seen heavily on the power play but will sprinkle time on the power kill as needed. If each can serve fifteen minutes on the ice, execute clean line changes and create offensive zone face-offs, the Dallas Stars will get their sought after production from this line.
Line 4 –
Joel Kiviranta – Jason Dickinson – Ty Dellandrea
Following a spectacular postseason, it is sometimes hard to remember that Joel Kiviranta only narrowly served 100 minutes of ice time last season for Dallas. However, his most successful in terms of xGF and most frequent pairing came alongside Jason Dickinson.
This would require the Dallas Stars to place Nick Caamano on the taxi squad, calling Ty Dellandrea to service. Caamano has failed to register a point this season, now totaling two points over 230 minutes of ice time in his career. He skates a complimentary game of hockey, he will be back this season with the Stars, but Dallas needs production today.
Dellandrea has drawn the ire of opponents this season. Drawing penalties and emotion with his chirpy, speedy play style. He also projects to compliment Jason Dickinson, whom he has shared ice time with this season prior. Blackout Dallas covered this some weeks ago.
Plan: Find redemption amongst themselves. It has been an inconsistent season for Dickinson. While his heads-up play style has been deployed, he has nearly doubled his penalty minutes from last season. Kiviranta recorded his best series performance since returning from injury alongside Dickinson in Florida towards the end of February, registering a +/- of 2 throughout. Also scoring his second tally of the year. All three of these men have yet to find their stride this season, BlackoutDallas predicts there could be progress in numbers for this trio.
Not feeling any of the Dallas Stars pairings above? Let us know.