The Rangers are in Dallas tonight to take on the explosive Stars, one of the top teams in the NHL. Dallas is loaded up and down the lineup, but their achilles heel is their goaltending and overall team defense. They control the play, but backchecking, positioning, and actually stopping pucks seems to be a challenge. Regardless, they are the cream of the crop in the West, along with LA and Chicago.
The Rangers squeaked by St. Louis on Thursday because Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head. If the Blueshirts play like that today, they will get annihilated. This is a Dallas team that looks primed to make a deep run, assuming they can continually outscore their opponents. Their weakness is defense and goaltending, so getting shots –as in not passing 800 times and passing up good shots– is critical. They beat Dallas once, they can do it again.
Lindy Ruff has the Stars playing an overload 1-2-2 forecheck which can be deployed aggressively or conservatively depending on the game situation (e.g., time left in period, score, etc.). In the defensive zone, Dallas tends to overload when the puck is along the boards, but they’ll switch to a zone defense when the puck is at the points. The Stars also run a variation of a 1-3-1 power play and diamond/box hybrid penalty kill. These are familiar styles of play that the Rangers should be used to at this point.
Alex Goligoski-John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya-Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka-Patrick Nemeth
PK: Sceviour, Fiddler, Eakin, Benn, Faksa, Demers, Oduya, Benn, Goligoski, Jokipakka
Kari Lehtonen gets the start.
PK: Stepan, Moore, Lindberg, Fast, Boyle, Staal, Yandle, Girardi
Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.
Crazy Prediction: The Rangers “accidentally” take Nichuskin back with them to NY, leaving Staal behind.