Game 71 Preview: Dallas Stars @ Winnipeg Jets

Dallas Stars (39-26-5, 83 pts) @ Winnipeg Jets (32-29-8, 72 pts)

7:30 PM CT, March 14, 2012

MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The Stars just keep on rolling through their March schedule. They beat the Minnesota Wild last night to get to a season high six game winning streak and have now gotten 21 of a possible 22 points in the last 11 games.

Dallas has a tough test tonight though as they take on the Winnipeg Jets on the backend of a back-to-back, something that Dallas has really struggled with this season. The Stars are 1-9-1 on second nights but they are so hot right now that it probably doesn’t even matter. The only win for the Stars in this situation (4-1 over the Wild) came in game three of this amazing points streak for the Stars. They get another chance tonight to gain some room against the other Pacific Division teams with a very winnable game.

Richard Bachman should be getting the start tonight so that Kari Lehtonen can be fresh for a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Bachman’s last game was a 5-2 win on the road over the Vancouver Canucks. He’s been great on the road this year, beating the Canucks, Blackhawks and New York Rangers. A tough road venue won’t get to Bachman’s head.

Dallas will be without Sheldon Souray again tonight unless he makes a miraculous recovery. Radek Dvorak is also questionable with an ankle injury that he suffered crashing into the boards.

Notes and thoughts:

  • The Stars are 9-0-1 against Canadian teams this season.
  • Dallas is 19-14-2 on the road. They’ve won six straight away from home.
  • Jamie Benn is on a four game point streak. One more point will give him a career high.
  • Michael Ryder needs one more goal to set a career high for him in that category.
  • The Stars are 11-1-1 all-time against the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets. The change in venue makes all the difference in this team though. The Jets are a tough team to beat at home.
  • The Stars PK is 24 of 24 in the last eight games. That number will be tested tonight as the Jets have the best home PP in the league.

more after the jump



The Jets are deperation mode right now. They sit six points out of the playoffs with only 13 games left in the season. They’ve dropped their last two games and are desperate for wins right now. With the Stars on the second night of a back-to-back, that makes the Jets an extremely dangerous team. Winnipeg is a much more comfortable home team and look to prove it tonight against one of the hottest teams in the league. 

The Jets rely on goalie Ondrej Pavelec. He’s 17-9-3 at home this season with a 2.25 GAA and a .925 save percentage. He lost the last two games, which were both on the road, but has won five of the last seven games at home. He hasn’t played since March 9 so he’ll be well rested for tonight’s game. Dallas needs to take it to him early and often and avoid the lull that they had last night against the Wild. If Dallas can score a goal and get him on his back foot, they can take advantage of him as he’s prone to collapsing.

The Jets are led offensively by Blake Wheeler (17 goals, 39 assists), Evander Kane (27 goals, 21 assists) and Dustin Byfuglien (10 goals, 33 assists).  Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder have been great in stopping the opponents top lines lately and they’ll be expected to do that again tonight. Kane is a sniper and the Stars defensemen need to keep him in front of them and be ready to jump into the path of his shots.

If the Stars do end up taking multiple penalties, it’ll be of utmost importance they stop Byfuglien. He’s the leading scorer on the PP for the Jets, mostly because of his assists. Dallas needs to keep the lanes closed, sticks in the path and watch out for the backdoor cut. Don’t make things anymore difficult for Bachman than they have to be.

Winnipeg will be without Chris Thorburn due to a lower body injury.

Notes and thoughts:

  • Wheeler is on a four game goal streak.
  • Winnipeg is 21-10-4 at home this season.
  • The Jets have the best home power play in the NHL with a success rate of 24.8%. Their 29 home PP goals is tied for best in the league with the Philadelphia Flyers. It should go without saying that the Stars need to stay out penalty trouble tonight (I’m looking at you Brenden Morrow).
  • Winnipeg does take a lot of penalties though (7th most at home in the NHL) and are a below average PK team. The Stars can take advantage of that.