Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Anaheim Ducks (9:00pm CST)



 

Tonight the Dallas Stars travel to Anaheim to face the Mighty Ducks, and start their longest road trip of the season. It's a five game stretch that will see the Stars go fourteen days between home games, and includes games on both the West and East coasts. This morning the Stars find themselves in 8th place with 34 points, only 4 away from the 12th place Edmonton Oilers, and 5 points away from the third place Blackhawks. This critical stretch against quality opponents is yet another opportunity for the Stars to come together and find the consistent play they've been looking for, or else fall to the wrong side of eighth place in the conference. Knowing the Stars this season, they'll somehow find a way to go 2-2-1 on this trip and end up right back where they started. Which wouldn't be all bad.

These teams met just five days ago in Dallas. The Stars were held off the score sheet through two periods, and a bit of a goaltending duel (or a contest of offensive ineptitude) had carried into the late stages of the game when Dallas finally broke through with two of the more embarrassingly fluky goals you'll ever see. Brenden Morrow added an empty netter and the Ducks lost the game in regulation, as well as Teemu Selanne. Since that meeting Thursday, the clubs have combined to lose three shootout games over the weekend: Dallas to Edmonton, and Anaheim to Minnesota and Ottawa.

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

The Stars:

The big news for Dallas tonight will likely be the season debut of young defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy, according to the Dallas Morning News. Dallas recalled Vishnevskiy from the Texas Stars and placed defenseman Karlis Skrastins on IR with a lacerated finger.

Our own Brandon Worley opined on the subject:

When news first came that Skrastins was out indefinitely with a cut finger on his hand, it was just about inevitable that he would have to go to injured reserve at some point. The cut is on the hand that grips the top of his stick and it's going to take at least a week for it to heal to a point where he can play comfortably. What I hoped would happen is that the Stars would recall Maxime Fortunus or Garrett Stafford when this happened, in order to provide some intelligent and physical relief on defense while Skrastins was out. Neither are flashy guys, but both are solid defensemen who won't make many mistakes.

And Mike Heika agreed:

I personally would have called up Maxime Fortunus and played him beside Fistric, but I think they like what Vishnevskiy has done so far this year with the Texas Stars. It's probably only for one game and Skrastins will come back Friday against San Jose, so we'll see how this works.

It appears as though Woywitka will be the odd man out tonight, but Marc Crawford has surprised us before.

While trying to keep Perry and Getlzaf away from Marty Turco with an increasingly young and inexperienced group of blue-liners, the Stars will also continue attempting to right the ship on offense. Two goals against the Ducks on Thursday (and an empty netter) and two goals against Edmonton on Saturday gives Dallas only two goals scored in an eye popping 12 of their last 16 games. James Neal will likely be reunited with Richards and Eriksson tonight to further the cause.

Marty Turco will be in net. [link]

The Ducks:

Anaheim, in spite of having one of the scarier offensive pairs in the league in Perry and Getzlaf, have lost five straight and will be looking to get off the slide with a win tonight. Ducks forward Joffrey Lupul returned from injury after the Dallas game, tallying three goals already in two games.

It's tough to figure out which goaltender is starting for Randy Carlyle these days. The OC Register explains...

The fact is Giguere and Hiller have been alternating starts the last four games since Hiller got the nod against the Kings after a start Giguere made against Phoenix in which he played well but lost in a shootout to Phoenix.

Neither goalie has won since and it’s left Giguere wondering what would have happened had Carlyle stuck with him during a run where he went 3-0-1 with a 1.71 goals-against average.

"If you keep going, good things could happen," Giguere acknowledged. "Sometimes a judgment call is more appropriate than that. I think at this point, Jonas and I have got to just take it one day at a time, not worry too much about the next game and just worry when you’re called upon and try to give the team a chance."

Carlyle’s basic approach has been to foster competition between the two would-be No. 1 goaltenders. But could it be having a reverse effect where it’s more you lose you’re out that win and you’re in.

"I’d be lying if I’d say it’s not in the back of our minds," Giguere said. "My mind anyway, I don’t about Jonas. You go into the third, it’s a tie game or whatever and you think about if you want to keep playing, you absolutely need to win. You can’t give up that next goal.

The pattern suggests Hiller tonight, which is a real shame, because I think we all enjoyed Giguere's third period performance on Thursday immensely.

Injuries:

Anaheim: Teemu Selanne (hurt by a Karlis Skrastins slap shot. Broken hand)

Dallas: Karlis Skrastins (hurt later the same game. Lacerated finger)

Have a prediction? Make it in the comments.

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