Dallas Stars vs. Colorado Avalanche
Today, 5 p.m. CT
Where: American Airlines Center
Video: Monty wants Stars to finish preseason on high note
This isn't the be-all of preparation for the start of the regular season against Boston Thursday, but the Stars would like to put together a solid performance.
Dallas was outshot in its first five preseason games and struggled to create any time in the offensive zone. Last game, it started to play with more purpose and execution and ended up with a 30-23 advantage in shots on goal.
Still, the Stars tallied just one goal in a 2-1 loss and now have seven goals in six preseason games. That falls in line with the team's scoring problems from last season, where they ranked 28th in goals per game at 2.55.
Dallas added Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry in the offseason in hopes of getting a boost in scoring. Pavelski had 38 goals for the San Jose Sharks last season, while Perry is a former MVP who was recovering from a knee injury. Perry currently is out with a fractured bone in his foot, but Pavelski is playing on the top line Saturday.
These same players will be the ones expected to be on the ice Thursday, just maybe not in this combination. Still, coach Jim Montgomery said he expects to shuffle his lines quite a bit this season.
What to watch
Video: COL@DAL: Bishop makes two superb stops on MacKinnon
There's much interest in how Montgomery puts together his top six, so watching Jamie Benn with Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski will be important. Benn and Seguin have had great chemistry with Alexander Radulov in the past, but it will be key to find the right fit for Pavelski, who has the ability to be the key cog in an offensive resurgence.
On the second line, Mattias Janmark will get a big chance to impress the coaching staff while playing beside Roope Hintz and Radulov. The guess is that Jason Dickinson or Denis Gurianov will also get top six looks early in the season, while Janmark has been considered more of a fourth line option.
That means this is a big game for Janmark.
The 26-year-old forward had just six goals last season, but had 19 the year before, so there is some curiosity about his offensive upside. This is just one preseason game, but if Janmark can show some speed, get to the net, and create some scoring chances, he might open the door for future experimentation.
Other questions include how they will match the defense pairs and whether or not Ben Bishop is on top of his game heading into the regular season.
By the numbers
That's the amount of power play opportunities the Stars had last season, ranking 29th in the NHL. Colorado ranked first at 286. Watch the Avalanche create speed through the neutral zone and go on the attack, an element that forces the opposition to chase and take penalties.
That's Ben Bishop's save percentage in two preseason games this year. Bishop also has a 1.87 GAA in that span. It shouldn't be surprising. Bishop led the NHL last season in save percentage at .934 and was second in GAA at 1.98
Denis Gurianov has no points and is minus-6 in five preseason games. That's worst on the Stars so far.
He said it
"We have a lot more flexibility back there and I think you're going to see a lot more movement in the pairings. It was pretty steady from the All-Star break on, who our top four was. I think there's going to be a lot of interchangeable parts, which as a staff we like, just because of matchups. You're playing a speed team, you might have different pairings than when you're playing a heavy team."
-- Stars coach Jim Montgomery on how his team will likely juggle the defense pairings more this season
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.