The Dallas Stars were in full force Thursday night, obliterating the Nashville Predators 5-2 at home. They will now hit the road for a weekend trip, and their two opponents are nothing to laugh about. Can they complete the road trip sweep?
The 2015-16 Dallas Stars paid a visit to the American Airlines Center on Thursday night, and it was a rather joyous reunion.
The Stars welcomed the Nashville Predators to Big D with little motivation backing them. They had lost on home ice to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, Julius Honka had been injured in that same game, and they were still riding the rollercoaster of inconsistency.
Article continues below ...
The Predators, on the other hand, had picked up points in six of their last eight games and were trying to slowly drown the Stars out in the standings.
There was not much hope or evidence that pointed to a Stars victory, so last year’s team stepped in and delivered. Dallas hit the ice with a fury that had not been seen in a while and rang the Predators up for five goals in less than two periods. The Stars walked away with an important 5-2 divisional victory and wedged their way back into the standings fight.
It was a level of effort that the Stars have not uncorked in a long time, and there was a certain “unstoppable” element in their play.
Even though we’ve said this 11 times this year, if the Stars can play like that on a consistent basis, they will have no trouble running the table. But, as we’ve seen, Dallas can’t seem to copy their winning performances in the games following.
They are 11-11-6 on the season and have only produced one winning streak (two games long). It’s an up-and-down problem that needs to be solved. Over the past few weeks, it seems as though the Stars’ play has jumped up a notch, which in turn seemingly has them more prepared for each game. They are giving more effort, and it seems as though they’re getting better results (at least somewhat).
And it all came to a pinnacle last night with the dominant win. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Jason Spezza (the Big Three, if you will) all tallied a goal. It was the first time this season that all three of them scored in the same game. The offense was firing, the defense was solid for the majority of the game, and Kari Lehtonen stood his ground exceptionally well. And it was a win over a Central Division team.
It was the perfect victory. The only question is whether or not Dallas will be able to keep up this level of play. It could carry them a long way and they are entering into a critical month of December with plenty of big games and a crucial home stand involved.
But before all of that happens, the Stars have one little road trip to get out of the way. And while it is only two days long and only involves two teams, it could be considered the most critical road trip of the season so far.
Tomorrow at high noon, the Dallas Stars will face off with the Philadelphia Flyers in their first meeting of the season at the Wells Fargo Center in Pennsylvania.
So, it’s an Eastern Conference opponent that the Stars have dominated in the recent past (4-1-1 over the last three seasons). But the Flyers are in a similar spot as the Stars: fighting for position in a tight race. They are currently sitting third in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 16-10-3 but are two points from being in the second wild card spot.
The biggest story on the Flyers at the moment though is that on Black Friday, they were 9-10-3. They have won their last seven and are the hottest team in the NHL. It’s going to take more than just a modest effort to dethrone them tomorrow. Dallas will need to bring Thursday night’s energy and then some to the table if they want to start up another win streak.
Around 27 hours after the completion of the game in Philadelphia, the Stars will be back on the ice in the United Center, squaring up against the Chicago Blackhawks in their third meeting of the year. Dallas is 0-1-1 against the Hawks and still searching for their first win. The Blackhawks currently sit in first place in the Central Division with a record of 17-8-3.
This will be on the second night of a back-to-back. The Stars are 1-1-1 in the second half of a back-to-back this season, and the overtime loss just happened to be against Chicago.
After today’s practice, it looks like Dallas will be receiving reinforcements over the weekend. Both D Johnny Oduya and F Jiri Hudler are expected to play in at least one of the two games.
So not only will Dallas need to find a way to be the team that stops an insane winning streak, but they will also need to top the best team in their division. They’re going to do all of this in 30 hours. Sounds crazy, right?
If they can resurrect that 2015-16 team like they did last night and put it on full display, they have a strong shot at completing this seemingly impossible feat. But walking away with no points would be absolutely devastating and highly detrimental.
By Sunday night, the Stars could be as high as third in the Central with 32 points or as low as third-to-last in the Western Conference with their current 28. So quite a lot can happen between now and Sunday night, and the Stars’ play controls a good majority of it.
It’s another weekend in the trenches for the Dallas Stars. The question is: are they finally prepared to attack this one head-on?