So the Dallas Stars have played, and beaten, top seeded Vancouver, they took NHL league leader Chicago into overtime, and they beat the Anaheim Ducks who at the time were 9 games in with just 1 loss. So why then have they lost twice to the Calgary Flames who were seeded last?
Both losses to the Flames saw Richard Bachman in net. Bachman's save percentage against the Flames is a lowly .792 compared to his season average of .857. If you take both the Calgary games off his record his save percentage jumps to .912 which would tie him at 20th in the league with Niklas Backstrom and Martin Brodeur for save percentage. However, those Calgary games are forever etched in history and nothing can be done to reverse that. Bachman did produce in the victory over the Canucks last week, and was solid in the most recent game against Calgary up to the third period. Only three games are scheduled against the 24th ranked Flames this season and Dallas has fallen to them twice.
The load cannot be solely placed on to Bachman's shoulders. Reilly Smith and Antoine Roussell have averaged a combined on ice time of just over 17 minutes against the Flames, and have scored two goals for the Stars in both losses. Cody Eakin has averaged 12:30 minutes and has scored a goal and an assist against the Flames. Although these young offensive statistics make us look like a young aggressive team, the truth is that 22 out of 30 shots in our last lost to the Flames came in the second period when we scored all three goals. In comparison the Dallas Stars had only four shots on goal in the first and the third. Attaining a two goal lead coming into the third after being down by a goal is not something to passively protect but perhaps aggressively advance upon. Continually expecting results from one out of three periods will not get the wins on the board.
Our next opponent is the Vancouver Canucks and the Sedin twins who have a combined points total of 25 for the season, 15 of which have come in their last 5 games, with four points against the Stars in their previous meeting. The last meeting saw the Stars edge out the Canucks 4-3. Again the second period providing most of their opportunities with 18 of the 29 shots on goal, and fortunately for Dallas they were able to score twice on only seven shots on goal in the third period. Brendon Dillon (22) coming up big with the game winning goal, with the other goal scorers being Roussel (23), Smith (21), and Eakin (21). Although the focus on the offseason was the age of the team and the big time acquisition of Jaromir Jagr, the key to victory, at least in recent games, seems to be embedded in the youth and their offensive aggressiveness.
This time around Dallas has the advantage over the Vancouver Canucks after a three day absence from NHL competition, as long as we can keep the Sedin twins in check, who both managed two points a piece in their loss to Chicago. We just need our young players to keep that aggressive attitude, along with that nice three day break for the older players to rejuvenate their legs and minds, and now with Jordie Benn called up from the Texas Stars to show why he deserves to be a part of this dynamic team. With only three meetings scheduled this season between the two teams, the Stars are poised to hand the Canucks their second loss in as many meetings.
Dallas will be home to Vancouver at 7:30pm on February 21st