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Inside the Rivalry: Dallas Stars

The Preds struggled against the Central Division champs last year. Don’t expect much to change this year.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Record from Last Season: 1-3-1

The Dallas Stars were an outstanding offensive team with an obvious goaltending problem last year. Despite the back-end weakness on their team, the Stars were able to whip up on the Predators all year long, getting four wins in five tries.

The Stars put up 19 goals in five games, the most that any team put up all year against the Predators. They’re built to outlast any offensive matchup with brute force, speed, and elite level goal scoring from guys like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Jason Spezza. The Predators are built to generate quality offensive chances, and that may improve with the arrival of P.K. Subban, but the Preds defense (and goaltending) just wasn’t good enough to overcome the Dallas onslaught most of the year.

Dallas is in complete control of this rivalry and I’m not sure that will change anytime soon.

Best Players from Last Season:

The aforementioned Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were completely dominant against Nashville last year. In over 38 minutes on the ice, they combined for 61.6% Corsi-For at even strength. That’s kind of insane to think about.

Their individual production from last season was top notch as well. Jamie Benn had three goals, four assists in five games against the Preds. Tyler Seguin had two goals, one assist in three games.

For future reference, it’s probably not a good idea to turn the puck over in the neutral zone against this team. Or allow odd-man rushes. Or allow Seguin unimpeded access to Pekka Rinne.

Or, you know, all three of those at once:

Best Game from Last Season:

The only win against the Stars last year came on March 1st. It was the Preds’ 5th win in a row and the only game all year where they were able to consistently exploit Dallas’ goalie problem.

Craig Smith, James Neal, Calle Jarnkrok, Shea Weber, and Mattias Ekholm all scored in a 5-3 win at home. Pekka Rinne managed to collect 35 saves on 38 shots.

This win came just after the Preds walloped the Blues the previous Saturday, where Filip Forsberg got his second hat-trick of the week. Things were looking up for Preds fans, for sure. After a long winter, this uptick in the season helped propel the team into a secure playoff position. If anything, these two wins over Dallas and St. Louis convinced the team (and the fans) that they belonged in the postseason picture.

Best Moment from Last Season:

This also comes from the only Preds win on March 1st. In the 2nd Period, Shea Weber and Mattias Ekholm scored goals within 31 seconds of each other, putting the Preds on top 4-1.

This quick strike from the Preds was a pivotal moment in the game. The Stars would go on to replace Antti Niemi in net with Kari Lehtonen and the Preds would hang on to win. Ekholm’s backhand was particularly disgusting.

This was also a momentum boost for the team as this was Shea Weber’s first game back since being out with a lower body injury. As mentioned before, this win was a big one for the team mentally, as they would then establish a solid playoff position within the increasingly competitive Central Division. Shea Weber was a big part of that and his power play bomb halfway through the 2nd period was a nice statement to the team and fans.

Bold Predictions for This Year:

The Dallas Stars will win all five games against the Preds this season. That’s right. 5-0-0.

I only hope that the Preds can take at least two of those games to overtime, managing maybe a couple points in the season series. Don’t count on it though.

Dallas is built to exploit a team that likes to think it can outscore them—particularly teams with weaknesses in goaltending. They capitalize on neutral ice turnovers and can jump into offensive attacks no matter where the puck is on the ice. The Preds like to get the puck up the ice as quickly as possible, using the transition game to generate points. They also like to possess the puck as much as possible, hoping it leads to more scoring chances. But the Stars are much better at playing that style of game than the Preds.

While the Preds might be able to occasionally take advantage of the single worst goalie tandem in the league, they will not be able to stop the Stars offensive attack.