Gameday Preview: Anaheim Ducks @ Dallas Stars (7:00pm CST)


Next Game

Anaheim Ducks
@ Dallas Stars

Thursday, Dec 31, 2009, 7:00 PM CST
American Airlines Center

Radio: 1310 The Ticket (listen online via stars.nhl.com)

TV: FS SW HD

Opponent Blog: Anaheim Calling

Complete Coverage >


Did you know, Stars fans, that the Ducks sit only six points back of Dallas?

Tonight marks the rubber match in a three-game December series between division rivals. The Stars took the first December game, 3-1 on December 3rd, and then on December 8th lost an embarrassing contest which they led 3-0 right before the second intermission. The Stars were burned on that night by Dan Sexton, whose name I just had to look up. Dan Sexton?

New Years Eve in Dallas, of course, is a long standing tradition for Stars fans. Last year they defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-2, and the year before that got shutout by the Predators, 1-0. As memorable as it was last year when the enormous blond guy sitting in front of me almost got into a fight (I say almost because he didn't want to put down his beers, you see. One in each hand), the most memorable New Years Eve memory Stars fans have was probably brought to them by Brett Hull. Hullie scored number 600 (and 601, I think) in a 5-4 win over these very same Mighty Ducks on New Years Eve 1999.

The game will feature two number 9's who are hopeful to make the USA Olympic roster when it is announced tomorrow. Bobby Ryan will of course be on it, but Mike Modano will await word. Mike has shown signs of life lately, scoring his first power play goal of the season versus Chicago on Tuesday. The 39 year old has been shuffled from third line center, to wing, to fourth line center and back again. As a Stars fan, I'm not sure that Mo's inclusion on the Olmypic roster is the best thing for Dallas, but as a proud American I would very much like to see #9 representing his country one final time.

Follow the jump for a look at both teams and injury updates...

The Stars:

We noted that the Stars are now 9-0-2 following a regulation loss. Unfortunately it's time to look at the other side of the coin: By my count they are 2-8-5 in games following a win. They have not won consecutive games since the last week of November.

If ever there were a time to do it again, this is it. The Stars are about to start a road heavy month of January, and the road has been anything but kind lately. The Ducks, meanwhile,  are 3-5-2 on the road in December, and the Stars are 7-1-2 in their last 10 home games.

Yesterday, Stars captain Brenden Morrow was named to the Canadian 2010 Olympic roster:

"I was a bubble guy and just wondering if I would make it or not and trying to visualize the games and what would happen in Vancouver," Morrow said. "I just had lots of things going through my head. The mice were running around and I couldn't go to sleep."

Morrow found out about 20 minutes before he went on the ice for practice Wednesday morning. Former Stars general manager Doug Armstrong, an associate director to Steve Yzerman in putting together the Team Canada roster, called Morrow to give him the news.

Morrow said he feels fortunate that he gets to play on the Olympic team in Canada with Vancouver as the host.

"I played in the World Juniors in Winnipeg," said Morrow, referring to the first time he represented his country in an international event in 2002. "It was a big home crowd. They were waving the white towels. There was a pretty good buzz in the arena. I'm sure it will be the same way in Vancouver. It's going to be a real exciting time."

After a 5 goal performance on Tuesday, one would think the lines would stay the same tonight:

Eriksson-Richards-Lehtinen
Neal-Ribeiro-Ott
Morrow-Wandell-Benn
Petersen-Modano-Brunnstrom

But who knows with Crawford?

The Ducks:

Anaheim has dug themselves out of their deep early season hole, and are getting uncomfortably close to the pack. They ride a hot goaltender into the AAC tonight. Jonas Hiller is 5-1 in his last six games and will likely get the start.

The Ducks are coming off a nice 4-2 win over Minnesota on Tuesday. Anaheim Calling recaps that action:

The Ducks won an important game tonight at the Ponda Center by conquering the Minnesota Wild who sit three places ahead of them in the conference standings.  This was a four point game for the Ducks, as is every game against a conference opponent for the rest of the season.  Bobby Ryan stepped up to fill the offensive void left by Ryan Getzlaf by providing two goals and an assist.  Big Sexy added a goal in between Bobby's, and Todd Marchant finished the scoring with a shorthanded empty netter at the end of the game.  Jonas Hiller made 29 saves including some clutch ones in the waning minutes of the game.  

The Ducks tried hard to give this one away allowing a PP goal with less than 7 minutes to play that pulled the Wild within 1. Still the Ducks found a way to get the win and had a strong defensive performance overall.  The Ducks go on the road to play 3 games in 4 nights. Two of those games are against opponents that are directly between the Ducks and a playoff spot.  The other is against the conference leading Blackhawks whom the Ducks have no chance of catching.  Getzlaf might be back for the game Thursday night against Dallas guaranteeing a little more line juggling by Carlyle.

This Stars team has been completely incapable of containing the opponents primary threats as of late (Datsyuk, Nash, Kane, etc) so they'd rather not see Getzlaf make his return on Dallas ice.

Injuries:

 

Dallas: Mark Fistric (concussion) is questionable. Toby Petersen has not shown any ill effects from the boarding he took on Tuesday. Jere Lehtinen seemed stung on a blocked shot against Chicago, but we haven't heard anything about the fragile-Fin so we assume he's fine.

Anaheim:  Getzlaf (leg) is questionable. Lupul (back) and Selanne (hand) are out.


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