Preview: Coyotes face the Stars in a "Big" game
The Phoenix Coyotes head to Dallas to face the Stars Friday night February 1st, this will be game one of this back-to-back series against Phoenix. The last time these two teams played was the Stars' home opener, which in front of a sold out crowd the Stars outlasted the Coyotes winning 4-3. Of course with the Dallas debuts of Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney, and Derek Roy a great buzz was created with the anticipation for the start of the NHL this season.
Just like in the home opener, once again another great buzz surrounds the Dallas Stars in this game. This will be Jamie Benn's first home game since resigning, and most notably the debut of the "Big Rig" Jamie Oleksiak and Antoine Roussel both called up from the Dallas Stars' AHL affiliate Texas Stars. There is no question the Dallas Stars have been struggling of late, losing their last four games. After this recent side by the Stars, I started looking at some player stats, which one that surprised me was the plus minus stat, Robidas with a +5 and Daley with a -6. Now you can look at this a few different ways, but with the ice time basically the same, it seems to be a defensive pairing issue. It seems to be oblivious that the Stars problem isn't in the crease, but in front of it with the defense, and currently the lack of scoring goals.
So the Stars called up the 6'7" 242lbs 20 year old Toronto native Oleksiak and the gritty Frenchmen Antoine Roussel from the AHL. At this point it doesn't look like the offensive lines and defensemen pairings are set, but I'm glad to see the Stars use their farm team to help resolve issues, rather then to start trading players. Calling up these players might not be an immediate fix, but could bring some hope to the fans and this hockey club.
What do the Stars need to do to secure a win against the Coyotes? The Stars should attack the net, Phoenix goalie Mike Smith is starting this game after coming off a lower body injury, get him off his game early. Next thing for Dallas to do is to be better defensively in their own zone, give Kari some help back there. Lastly get some pucks on net, you can't score consistently by passing it on the power play looking for that "perfect" goal. One other note, looks like defensemen Oleksiak will be wearing number 43, while forward Roussel have number 60 for their Dallas Stars debuts. (The video below is Jagr's first goal as a Dallas Star on opening night.)