The Edmonton Oilers will wrap up a three-game homestand on Saturday afternoon when they host the Dallas Stars.
1. It’s important for the Oilers to get back in the win column after a frustrating loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. The Oilers had a 3-1 lead coming into the third period but allowed it to slip away as the Devils scored early in the frame and then scored twice seven seconds apart to tie and take the lead. It wasn’t a poor effort from the Oilers but not being able to close the door in the third leaves a sour taste.
Edmonton has likely their most difficult road trip of the season coming up next week. They’ll start off with a back-to-back against the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday and Tuesday and then they’ll play the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers on Thursday and Saturday. That’s four games in six nights against playoff teams.
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2. The Stars snuck into the playoffs last year with a 46-30-6 record and wound up losing to the Calgary Flames in seven games. Dallas oped to fire head coach Rick Bowness following that result and they replaced him with Pete DeBoer, who had been sacked after the Vegas Golden Knights missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Bowness is now coaching the Winnipeg Jets, who sit second in the Central Division behind the Stars. Two other former Stars coaches are currently behind the bench of teams who are leading their respective divisions. Jim Montgomery’s Boston Bruins are 10-1-0 thus far and Lindy Ruff’s Devils are 8-3-0 following their win in Edmonton.
3. DeBoer’s teams have been known to do well in his first season behind the bench. The Devils and San Jose Sharks went to the Stanley Cup Final in DeBoer’s first season with those teams in 2011-12 and 2015-16. The Golden Knights reached the Western Conference Final in the bubble in the summer of 2020 after DeBoer took over mid-season for Gerard Gallant.
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4. So far, so good for the Stars, who have the best record in the Central Division at 7-3-1. They’re above average in terms of offence, as they rank seventh in the league with 40 goals, and some excellent goaltending has them ranked second in the league in goals against with 25.
5. Of the 40 goals that Dallas has scored this season, 17 have come from the team’s top line of Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, and Roope Hintz. Robertson is leading the way with seven goals and 12 points, Hintz has five goals and 14 points, and Pavelski has five goals and 10 points.
Dallas had a top-heavy offence last season, as Robertson, Hintz, and Pavelski led the team with 81, 79, and 72 points respectively. Their next-highest scorer was Tyler Seguin, who had 49 points, and defenceman John Klingberg, who had 47 points.
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They’re getting contributions from elsewhere in the lineup, as off-season addition Mason Marchment and rookie Wyatt Johnson both have four goals and Seguin is having a bit of a rebound season with nine points through eleven games.
The Stars would get a major boost if Jamie Benn could find his game again. The team’s captain has a $9.5 million salary cap hit for two more seasons after this one and hasn’t cleared 20 goals or 50 points since 2018-19. Benn scored his first goal of the season earlier this week against the Arizona Coyotes.
6. The Stars’ MVP so far this season has been goaltender Jake Oettinger, who has an absurd .952 save percentage through seven games. The No. 26 overall pick from the 2017 NHL Draft played well in his rookie season last year, posting a .914 save percentage in 48 games, but he really hit his stride in that first-round series with the Flames.
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Oettinger nearly led the Stars to an upset over Calgary, as he stopped 272 of the 285 shots the Flames threw at him in that series.
7. Oettinger is currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury so we’ll likely see backup Scott Wedgewood get the start against the Oilers on Saturday. Wedgewood has a .909 save percentage over 13 games with the Stars dating back to last season when they acquired him from the Coyotes.
8. Going for the Oilers will likely be Jack Campbell. It’d be his third start in his career against the Stars, the team that selected him with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.
The Stars traded Campbell to the L.A. Kings in June of 2016 and the change of scenery helped him hit his stride. Campbell faced the Stars for the first time in January of 2019 and stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 2-1 win. He also beat the Stars as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs back in April, stopping 15 of 18 shots in the win.
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