Sunday, March 13, 2011
Stars' forward depth paying dividends
By Mark Stepneski
The Dallas Stars are on an eight-game points streak and they are on a streak within that streak. They are on an eight-game streak of scoring three goals or more, totaling 27 goals for an average of 3.4 per game.
The offensive run has coincided with the Stars getting healthy at the forward position over the past couple weeks. The Stars’ depth at forward, which had been gutted by injury, has been back to full strength for the most part during this recent run and it’s gotten better with the return of Brad Richards this past week. Now, opponents have to try to decide which of the Stars’ big guns they are going to focus on with their top defensive players.
“Who do they try to shut down that night? It’s tough,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow.
“I think one of the strengths of our club is we are a tough team to match up against,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “Now that Brad is back, do they favor Brad, do they favor [Mike Ribeiro]? And Jamie Benn has scored at a really good level. Often times they all play on different lines.”
Benn (6 goals), Ribeiro (4 goals) and Loui Eriksson (4 goals), who is Richards’ linemate, have combined for 14 of the Stars’ 27 goals over the last eight games, but the team is getting contributions from players down the lineup as well.
“Mentally it takes some of the pressure of those top two lines when you’re getting depth,” said Morrow. “You can’t overlook those things.”
Tom Wandell has chipped in three goals over the last eight games. Jason Williams scored the game-winning goal in San Jose. Tomas Vincour scored a game-tying goal against Calgary that earned the team a crucial point. Ten different forwards have scored over the last eight games.
“It’s great when that happens, especially this time of year. You need guys stepping up and getting the job done,” said Stars defenseman Trevor Daley. “It can’t be the usual suspects all the time. It’s the right time for it to be happening.
And the Stars’ defense has chipped in three goals and 15 assists during the last eight games, led by Alex Goligoski (one goal, six assists) and Daley (two goals, two assists).
Stars forward Jamie Benn enters Sunday's game riding a six-game goal scoring streak. It’s the longest current streak in the league and tied for the longest streak in the league all season. Only Michael Grabner of the New York Islanders and Daniel Cleary of the Detroit Red Wings have scored goals in six straight games this season.
During Benn’s run he’s scored twice at even strength, twice on the power play and twice shorthanded.
Burish out Sunday
Stars forward Adam Burish will miss Sunday’s game with a lower body injury, Stars coach Marc Crawford said after the team practiced in Euless on Saturday.
“He's out [Sunday] for sure,” Crawford said. “It's from the blocked shot a few weeks ago. He's been playing with lots of pain. We're shutting him down for tomorrow and we'll see where he's at.”