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New York Islanders vs. Dallas Stars [Game 51 thread]

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Twinsies! Both teams defend hard, and try to score here and there.

2016 NHL Draft - Round One
Let’s take delight / It’s been a long wait for this moment
Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The New York Islanders welcome Dallas Stars to Brooklyn and Kieffer Bellows to their lineup for the rookie’s NHL debut against one of his father’s former teams.

Granted, back in his heyday Brian Bellows played for the Minnesota North Stars, but we shouldn’t let Norman Green’s ownership incompetence destroy our recognition of the historic continuity.

(Bellows the elder scored 35 goals as an 18-year-old in the NHL, and went on to rack up 342 regular season goals across 10 seasons. He was traded by the North Stars before they moved south, which enabled him to win a Stanley Cup with the cheating Montreal Canadiens in 1993.)

Like the Islanders, the Stars don’t give up many goals but sometimes have a hard time finding the back of the other team’s net. Their GM Jim Nill sees other similarities:

We’re built like probably six to seven other teams in the league, the St. Louis’, the Islanders, the Boston’s, the Vegas’, those type of teams; real sound defensive teams, heavier teams, I guess is a way to put it. That’s our identity.

Though the Stars have some high-end offensive talent, one focus has been to avoid the high-flying, end-to-end kind of play that can come with that. Almost echoing the Barry Trotz philosophy, Nill elaborated in that same interview with Pierre LeBrun of the Athletic:

[I always talk with other GMs about philosophy] and where the game is headed and that, our league has almost become: you’ve got to be skilled enough to get in the playoffs, but you’ve got to be structured enough, heavy enough, hard enough, to survive in the playoffs. And it’s a fine line. You got to have enough skill to get in the playoffs because it’s an 82-game grind. Some nights, third game in four days, you’re tired, you don’t have it, but your skill has to win you games. The goaltending, the power play, one of your high-end offensive players makes an unbelievable play in a 3-3 game to win it, you’ve got to have that. But I know this much, when you get into the playoffs, it is a grind. There’s a will that goes with that. And there’s a way you’ve got to play in the playoffs to make it. That’s no secret.

And then over here you’ve got parity.

The Stars played last night at the Garden and easily dispatched the Rangers while also managing their minutes well. So while the Islanders should have the rested, home-ice advantage, it’s not like the Stars had to log a lot of miles or stress on this back-to-back.

Bellows is expected to debut next to Derick Brassard and Michael Dal Colle. Semyon Varlamov looks like the starter. Check out more on the Stars’ likely plans at Defending Big D.