Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Los Angeles Kings (9:30pm CDT)



Over the last two seasons, the Dallas Stars have been about as close to a sure thing for the Los Angeles Kings as it gets in the NHL. They're 5-0 against the Stars this year, and went 5-1 against them last season for a staggering 10-1 over their last 11 meetings. So while nothing is on the line for the Stars tonight, one would think pride might enter into the equation at some point. Los Angeles, meanwhile, is fighting for playoff seeding and have been sliding a little of late. Only one point separates the Kings from 8th place and a first round matchup with the Sharks (or Hawks, or Coyotes...). The last time the Stars went to L.A., the Kings were fighting for a share of the conference lead.

The Kings have outscored the Stars 19-9 on the year. The first two trips to Staples Center were not without merit this year. The first trip in October saw Dallas overcome a 4-1 third period deficit, ultimately losing a minute into overtime. The second trip in December ended in a controversial shootout fashion as Mike Ribeiro was awarded a goal, then had it taken away by way of replay. Three of the five meetings this year have required more than 60 minutes.

Kari Lehtonen will get the start in net for Marc Crawford tonight. He's seen the Kings only one in his career, saving 28 of 30 shots and getting the win.

Follow the jump for more on the Stars, the injuries and a Kings update from LA Kings Insider...

The Stars:

One of Marc Crawford's favorite boys, Krys Barch, will miss the rest of the season after getting cut pretty seriously by a skate against the Sharks on Thursday night. Jed Ortmeyer's skate cut him just above his Achilles tendon on his lower leg, ending Barch's year 8 games prematurely.

By the way, Barch made $575,000 this year and is now an unrestricted free agent starting in July 1st. Given his affordable nature and ability to fill a certain role, do you expect Barch to be re-signed in the off-season?

That opens the door for everyone's favorite whipping boy, Fabian Brunnstrom. He has 11 points (2 goals) in 40 appearances this season. If ever there was a man motivated to take advantage of an opportunity dropped in his lap, it should be Fabian Brunnstrom. He needs a contract, probably from someone else. Let's see some effort tonight.

Meanwhile, Brandon Segal makes his first trip to L.A. since being waived by the Kings last month.

Expect lines to look something like this:

Ott-Richards-Eriksson
Morrow-Ribeiro-Segal
Neal-Benn-Lehtinen
Petersen-Sutherby-Brunnstrom

Mike Modano originally said he'd hoped to join the team in Los Angeles today, but will be unable to make his return until the 31st at the earliest.

The Kings:

Kings Insider has concerns that Jonathan Quick is playing too many games:

Is Jonathan Quick playing too much? That seems to be a big question on everyone’s mind (and maybe a future poll question here?). New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur leads NHL goalies in games (68) and minutes (3,970:22) played this season. Quick is second in both categories, at 66 games and 3,922:27 minutes. I asked Terry Murray today if there was any concern, on his part, going down the stretch about possible fatigue in Quick’s game.

MURRAY: "I have awareness to the number of minutes. I don’t have a concern with it. With the number of games played, No. 1 goaltenders have to play those number of games. The history of the game shows that when you have a clear-cut No. 1, he’s going to get up there in that stat. I think he’s looking good. He’s strong, he’s feeling good, he’s got a really good attitude about coming out and playing every night, and I think, in the big picture of his career, I think this is going to be tremendous for his mental toughness."

Save him if you need to, Kings. Should you draw the Sharks in the first round, you have that all important responsibility to the conference to be their downfall and you'll need your goaltender.

Jewels From the Crown looks at the Kings recent failings:

My fears of the Los Angeles Kings being beaten were confirmed Wednesday night when they faced the Colorado Avalanche, and then it was firmly driven home when they faced the St. Louis Blues last night. The myriad of penalties came in bunches for the Kings in both games, but too many PKs in the first game and not enough effort with the PPs last night equals only one point gained in the standings.

Injuries:

Dallas: Tom Wandell (knee), Mike Modano (appendix), Krys Barch (laceration/lower body injury) are out.

Los Angeles: D Matt Greene (upper body) is questionable.

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