Win or lose tonight at least the Dallas Stars will already be halfway through their Anaheim Duck meetings this season. What was a very advantageous match up for Dallas last year has turned sour this go around with the Stars losing to Anaheim twice already this season by a combined score of 9-4.
We're all too familiar with the Ducks already, aren't we? Their win over the Stars Friday stretched their win streak to SIX games. (Can you imagine such a thing?) Their overtime loss to Chicago on Sunday snapped it, but they've still earned points in seven straight games, leap-frogging much of the Western Conference in the process while the Stars have not added to their point total in 11 days, sinking to 13th place.
Jonas Hiller has stopped 62 of 66 Dallas shots this season (.939) and has allowed them only two goals each game. He is quickly gaining the reputation of being a Star-killer of sorts around these parts, but with the Ducks playing back-to-back tomorrow night, there is at least a possibility the Stars will see Curtis McElhinney tonight, though, why not use your number-one for the division opponent?
Tonight's home game has a late 8:00pm start time, as did their first meeting with Anaheim at home three weeks ago on a Tuesday, due to Versus' exclusive NHL broadcast rights tonight until that time. Tonight's game will feature a Swedish on-ice official for the first time in NHL history. Please do join in our GDT tonight to complain about him.
A juggle in the lines after the jump...
Unable to make it to morning skate today, I cannot yet comment on the availability of Brenden Morrow for tonight's game. He tweaked his groin last Friday and played through it, but has not been on the ice since. He said he felt pretty good yesterday but it's still up in the air tonight.
Assuming (hoping, praying) that Morrow can indeed go, the lines could look like this given what's happened in practice this week...
Segal showed good energy with those two on Friday night and could keep that spot for a game or two if he continues to show well. My feeling is that it's a positive reflection of what Segal is doing, not anything on the part of Wandell.
Kari Lehtonen will be in goal tonight, naturally.
Anaheim is presenting the problem the Stars would like to: Multiple scoring lines you're afraid of. It seems a given that when these teams meet, Bobby Ryan is going to do something to make us mad. Likewise with Perry and Getzlaf. Now this Blake/Selanne/Koivu trio is wreaking havoc despite the sum of their ages coming to 165. All three of them can still skate extremely well and that's the key against Dallas this year. Teams that can really skate give the Stars fits.
Even if the Stars should avoid Hiller, McElhinney is still 2-2 this season with 2.98 GAA and a .924 save percentage.
Check out Anaheim Calling for all your Duck needs as they arise:
Watching the Kings lose last night, you might think to yourself, 'hmm, the Ducks can tie for 1st place with a win over the Stars tonight.' It's a hollow distinction considering the Kings would have four games in hand on the Ducks, the same four games in hand that 13th place Dallas holds on Anaheim while sitting 4 wins back of the 4th place Ducks. Still, as opportunities to feel good about yourself go, it . . . is one.
For now, the Ducks are playing .579 hockey as far as point percentages, and that's good for 7th best in the West. Points in seven straight have a lot to do with that, and something better than .500 hockey will be needed to maintain it. The fear is, of course, a repeat of last year, where the team found some success but ultimately needed another pep talk, another trade threat or just the pangs of another losing streak to set in before they got back to the business of winning games.