If you are looking for a resounding “but” within the Dallas Stars 8-3-1 start, you could say that they have faced a combination of poor teams, and good teams with poor circumstances. Whether that is injuries, minor-league goalie play, or playing four road games in six nights, there lie the excuses. On Tuesday night in Winnipeg, that will not be the case.
The Winnipeg Jets are one of the main surprise teams of this season. Despite swapping for the oldest coach in the league and an immediate strip of the captaincy, they have rolled to a 7-3-1 start, have won five of their last six, and trail only Dallas in the Central Division.
Dallas defeated Winnipeg in their first matchup, the home opener back in October. But the Jets were without Head Coach Rick Bowness (COVID) and it was very early in the season. Tonight, the old Stars bench boss will face his former team for the first time and his club should be more than ready to improve on their 4-1-0 home record.
"We know this is an important game for Rick Bowness and I think it's an important game for some of the guys in our dressing room, too," Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. "We know where we are in the standings with them, so it's an important game."
For the Stars, it is business as usual. Dallas has won three in a row, all by three or more goals. They have the league's second-best goal differential at +19. And they have been rolling four lines and dominating play for a large portion of the season.
“We know what to do,” Joe Pavelski said. “We’re well on our way to that structure and that team, but on a nightly basis, we’re seeing a lot of good teams throughout the league and teams that are playing well. You’ve got to execute along the way.”
So why fix it if it ain't broke? Pete DeBoer and his staff have chosen not to.
Starting goaltender: Scott Wedgewood will appear in his sixth game. He has a 3-2-1 record and .908 save percentage. Jake Oettinger is still rehabbing his injury.
Fun Note: The Jets will be hosting 'Filipino Heritage Night' on Tuesday. Stars forward Jason Robertson was just the second Filipino-American player to make the NHL and will be taking part in the ceremonial puck drop before the game.
Stars Projected Lines
- Jason Robertson-Roope Hintz-Joe Pavelski
- Mason Marchment-Tyler Seguin-Denis Gurianov
- Jamie Benn-Wyatt Johnston-Ty Dellandrea
- Radek Faksa-Luke Glendening-Joel Kiviranta
- Miro Heiskanen-Colin Miller
- Ryan Suter-Nils Lundkvist
- Esa Lindell-Jani Hakanpaa
- Scott Wedgewood
- Matt Murray
Sam’s Three Keys
- Fewer penalties (Dallas leads the league in shorthanded time).
- Compete at the same level. Don’t write it off and look forward to getting home.
- Get a picture of Rick Bowness getting out of his Corvette in the snow.
He Said It
"He was a great part of our locker room and a big part of what we're still trying to do," Tyler Seguin said of Bowness. "We use a lot of things that he taught us defensively and things he taught us as a group and as a family. There are a lot of good messages from his time here."