Predators vs. Stars Preview: Stars Forwards
We take a look at the Stars’ forward corps here.
There’s some familiar names in the lineup at forward for Dallas. We’ve seen Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin leading the charge for the Stars for a few years. They have some newcomers acquired from trades, as well as some youngsters from the AHL eager to make a name for themselves.
In the regular season matchup against Nashville, the Stars were led in scoring by Seguin. Radek Faksa notched 4 assists against Nashville.
Head coach Jim Montgomery has deployed the same top line for Dallas for most of the season. The other three lines see a shuffle of forwards. Let’s look at Dallas’s forward deployment here:
The Big Names
Tyler Seguin led the Stars in points with 80 (33 goals, 47 assists) this season. Linemate and former Predator Alexander Radulov had 72 points (29 goals, 43 assists). Captain Jamie Benn rounds out the top 3 points leaders with 53 (27 goals, 26 assists). Seguin is Dallas’s only 30-goal scorer this season.
(Note: Benn is notorious for poor tape jobs on his stick. Players around the League have chirped Benn’s taping. Give it a Google.)
The top line of Benn, Seguin, and Radulov will likely match up against Nashville’s JoFA line. Seguin is deadly in front of the opponent’s net. His heat map shows us where the Stars do the bulk of his shooting with him on the ice...close to the net:
Names like Jason Spezza, Mattias Janmark, and Jason Dickinson don’t necessarily have the star power of those listed above, but these players can threaten for Dallas in some lower-six forward matchups.
Nashville’s Rem Pitlick is the cousin of Dallas’s Tyler Pitlick. Dallas’s Pitlick put up 12 points (8 goals, 4 assists) in the regular season.
Spezza, Pitlick, and Janmark each scored twice against Nashville in their regular season matchups. A big series from any of these players poses a potential threat for the Predators.
[Ed.: The biggest problem the Stars have had this season is the lack of scoring depth up front. Of the seven players on their roster to reach ten goals or thirty points, three are defenders. Radek Faksa is the only forward in the bottom nine to make that list, scoring fifteen goals and adding another fifteen assists despite poor on-ice shot quantity and quality. He’s a strong shooter, when he’s not in the penalty box—he tied for third in the team in PIM this season—but he’s really been the only consistent threat among forwards not named Seguin, Radulov, or Benn.
In some ways they’ve been a lot like the Predators in that respect, but although their top line has been better—or at least healthier—their bottom nine have been worse. Faksa has a very similar statline to Colton Sissons, with 15G/15A in a little over sixteen minutes a night. Imagine the Preds with Sissons as their fourth-most-productive forward—no Craig Smith, no Nick Bonino.]
The Stars acquired Mats Zuccarello at the trade deadline from the New York Rangers. He didn’t get the chance to make much of an impact during the final stretch of the season, however. In his first game as a Star, Zuccarello broke his arm. He made a surprise return a few games ago, but was held out of the last two games of the regular season. The Stars are most certainly looking forward to seeing Zuccarello in the playoffs. Can he be a big factor for the boys in green?
Roope Hintz, a 22-year old rookie who’s spent time with Dallas’s AHL club, has put up 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists), in his first season with the big club. Here’s Hintz burying a goal in overtime against the Kings:
The checking line of Dallas will be a formidable matchup, too. Faksa, Blake Comeau, and Andrew Cogliano will be deployed in the Stars’ defensive zone and will certainly be called upon to throw some bodies around.
Although On The Forecheck will have a closer look at Dallas’s special teams tomorrow, we can’t finish a discussion of their forwards without noting their success on the power play. Dallas has the 10th-ranked power play in the NHL. They may look to deploy Zuccarello on the power play to complement the work of Seguin, Benn, Radulov, and Klingberg, allowing them to move Jason Spezza to the second unit.
All stats and graphics are from NHL.com, hockeyviz.com, and hockey-reference.com.