The red-hot Dallas Stars host the Nashville Predators tonight as two central division giants do battle. The Predators have a chance to earn first place.
The Dallas Stars are an offensive powerhouse who have been hot as of late. They’ve won their last five games and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. The Nashville Predators are almost equally as hot as they had the best November of anyone in the NHL. The Stars currently sit fourth in the Central with 33 points in 27 games, and 3 points out of third.
The Stars are an offensively excellent team that has only gotten better as the season has gone on. Tonight will be a big challenge for the Nashville Predators. So let’s dive into the Stars.
The Stars’ stars
Obviously, the Stars have one of the best top lines in the NHL. Tyler Seguin (27 points), Alexander Radulov (25 points), and Jamie Benn (23 points) are one of the biggest, fastest, and meanest scoring lines in the NHL. Nashville fans are obviously familiar with Radulov, but as an outsider, it’s kind of nice to see a young punk kid change his life around and return to the peak of his profession. Enough sappiness though. The second line is nothing to sneeze at either, as Jason Spezza centers Mattias Janmark and Devin Shore. Although they’ve been quiet in the offensive zone, they’ve been facing top-line talent.
The hottest player on the Stars isn’t one of their big guys though, Radek Faksa has been on fire recently. He has 16 points in 26 games, with 7 coming in the last 5 games. He’s on the third line but he sees a decent amount of ice-time.
The defense has long been a question for the Stars, but they’ve been better as of late. John Klingberg has returned to elite form with a quiet 24 points in 27 games. The bottom three on defense has been a little bit suspect, with Jamie Oleksiak taking time away from young up and comer, Julius Honka. Stephen Johns has looked good but he’s been playing with some subpar talent.
The real question for the Stars will be goaltending. Ben Bishop has been great in spurts but has fought injuries this season. He’s owned a 91.2% save percentage but does have 13 wins in 22 games. Then there’s Kari Lehtonen, who’s been as average as ever. He owns a 90.2% save percentage. Goaltending might sink this team, or it could give them life.
The Nashville Predators didn’t practice today as they played and traveled last night. But I imagine the Predators will ice the same lineup they did against the Bruins.
The goalies haven’t been announced yet, but I imagine that recently called-up Juuse Saros will get the start, as Pekka Rinne started last night. It will be a monumental challenge for the young netminder.
Keys to the game
- High danger chances against- The Dallas Stars are one of the best teams in the NHL at getting the puck to the net front. Juuse Saros will have his work cut out for him as the Predators don’t always do a good job of cleaning up loose pucks.
- Transition- The Stars have one of the quickest defenders in Klingberg, solid defensive positioning could lead to a turnover and a Predators chance going the other way. Either way, centers need to be vigilant when Klingberg is breaking the puck out.
Where to watch
Watch it on on Fox Sports Tennesse at 7:30PM or listen on 102.5 The Game starting at 7PM.