The Dallas Stars. They are 3-4-0 coming out of their game with the Los Angeles Kings. Here is a list sampling some things I dislike:
- Dallas Stars
- Los Angeles Kings
- Hits from behind
Seeing as how the Kings-Stars game will likely feature three out of the four things listed above, I don’t want to give it any extra attention.
The Anaheim Ducks are 6-1-0 after a pretty tight but crazy overtime meeting with the Phoenix Coyotes, whom I have zero strong emotions associated with on account of sheer and utter apathy. But how about that last game, right? Wow. Great game.
The Western Conference is better than the Eastern Conference, and games like the one against the Desert Dogs are the kind we have to expect seeing more of – tightly played, more evenly matched than not. Those are also the games that, through hook or crook, we want the team to win. Also like last game, thanks to Nick Bonino doing…well, this.
The Stars are like the Coyotes in that they have some young, skilled players who excel at playing within a grinding, stout defensive system. (Unless they play a run-and-gun style now, but like hell am I researching that...it's the friggin' Stars. Screw them.) Unlike the club in Phoenix, this Dallas team isn’t putting up the same offense – they average 2.33 goals per game and only have a measly nine goals in 5v5 play.
Like the 'Yotes game, and like previous games against this Texas club, I expect the Ducks to be called for a lot of silly penalties (see the Perry cross-check last game) while "professional obstruction and interference" run rampant and uncalled against. That’s ok though, the Ducks can play and win in those games.
Keys to the Game: The key to this game will be special teams, plain and simple. Like I said before, I think this game will involve plenty of penalties, similar to the Ducks-Yotes game. Most grinding, tightly checked games end up yielding calls going both ways. The Ducks PK is clicking along, doing swell. The Ducks PP straight up sucks, like mayonnaise
While the Stars only have 11 even strength goals through seven games, they have four tallies on the PP. That already puts the Stars above the Ducks’ PP, but since we’re last in the league on the PP (at 3.7%), this isn’t exactly a proud feat. [Ed. Note: in fact, the opposite. 'tis a shameful feat, indeed. -CK]
What Can We Learn From this Game: We are getting nearer to learning what the organization might decide to do with Hampus Lindholm. He’s looked very good for us, both defensively and in driving play. He’s been a capable partner to the still limited Francois Beauchemin and has even had some long looks on the PP. We still suck on it though, so there’s some salt grains in there. Boudreau may try pulling his goalie on the PP to get it going, so we may get used to seeing new faces there anyway.
I like Lindholm. He’s having a very strong first showing at this level, but I worry about young players in games 20 and on. I’ve mentioned it here before, but he’s never played 50 games in a season. My concern is that his play would level out and falter some. Thankfully, nobody pays me to decide these things. So keep an eye on Lindholm in this one. If Boudreau begins putting him out in more situations, or begins loading him up in DZ faceoffs, maybe we’re seeing someone who has earned his trust – and that’s someone harder to send back down.
Also as a certified #CamSucks card carrying member prior to these first games this year, I want everyone to watch Cam Fowler's play. Focus in on him some, if you can. He. Is. Killing. It.
Take the game against the Coyotes: he played 29:03; his zone starts were fairly even; he played in all situations. And in even strength play, he limited the Yotes to a stupidly small 30% time on attack. Approximately 70% of his EV play was spent driving play toward Mike Smith or at the very least not letting Phoenix send pucks at Hiller. Whatever he’s worked on this summer, and whatever Coach Scott Niedermayer is bringing to his game, I hope it continues. He’s slowly winning me over into a legitimate fan of his.
Fearless Prediction: The team with the D logo wins! You can bet all the monies on this, I promise.
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