The Stars accomplished their mission. They went into Nashville and stole a game meaning they have gained the home-ice advantage. While taking both games in Nashville would have given the Stars a stranglehold on the series, they should feel good about they did not play their best game and still pushed Nashville to overtime.
The Stars now head back to the AAC with a chance to take the series lead in a critical game 3. Nashville made many adjustments from Game 1 to neutralize the Stars advantage and so Monty will need to do the same.
Get Bishop Active
This point is of course based on the idea that goes Bishop stars Game 3. Given how well he has played in this series, it would not be surprising to see Bishop get a 3rd straight start in the series. The Stars struggled with their zone entries and exits partially due to the aggressive forecheck by the Predators. Bishop being aggressive and active by coming out of his net to hit a streaking skater will be key to break up the forecheck and generate some offense for Dallas. The forwards need to continue to help their defensemen in exiting the zone by making themselves options on short, easy passes that will help them break out. All 5 skaters have to be communicating while on the ice. Look for the Stars to make this adjustment in Game 3.
Nashville is going to continue to try to use their irritating players in order to force the Stars into mistakes and penalties. The Stars cannot afford to take dumb penalties caused by retaliating to the Predators antics. While the Predators power play has been held scoreless in the series, common sense tells you they have too many skill players for that to continue for the entire series. The officiating, especially in Game 2, so far in the series can be described as questionable at the best of times so staying disciplined and playing smart Stars hockey will be crucial for their success. The Stars cannot control Nashville’s antics and games, but they can control how they react to them and allow the refs to dole out the punishment accordingly. The quality of the officiating will be a factor in the Stars keeping their composure as it will be increasingly difficult if the refs continue to let cross checks to the neck slide.
Use Home Ice
It has been a long 3 years since we last playoff hockey in the city of Dallas. The last time fans saw Dallas have a home playoff game, it did not go at all according to plan as it was a blowout Game 7 loss to the Blues. The atmosphere for Game 3 is going to be raucous and crazy. The Stars will need to use this energy from the crowd and take control of the game early on. Keep the crowd involved. Taking these two home games will be crucial for Dallas to punch their ticket to the second round and using every advantage they have at their disposal to grind out a series win. Dallas played well at home during the regular season and the fans were definitely an important part of helping create their home ice success. Their influence in the next two games will be crucial.
Skate, Skate, Skate
The Dallas Stars have players with the ability to skate circles around even some of the best defensemen. At times in Game 2, the support skaters for Dallas were often too stagnant and waiting for the puck carrier to do something special by splitting 3 Preds, particularly on the power play. All 5 skaters need to be moving and trying to create space to create quality scoring chances. The reason the second power play unit has been far more successful than the first is due to their speed and using their skating to create chances. Dallas will need to use that skating ability and speed to apply pressure to the Predators much like they did in the first period of Game 2. The Stars have the ability to force Rinne into some timely turnovers to help jump-start their offense.
Dallas is right where they want to be at this point. Nashville was the toughest matchup for the Stars in Round 1, but you play the hand you are dealt with. The team will need to put together a full 60 minutes in order to secure a series win and advance in the playoffs. Ideally, the Stars will avoid going to overtime as they have lost all 3 games where the game has gone to the extra period. Dallas cannot afford to open the door for the Predators and Game 3 likely decides who takes this series.
Look for the team to make the necessary adjustments and being trying to vary their entries and also create some favorable matchups much like they did in Game 1.
Featured Image: SportsDayDFW, Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP