Saturday, December 10th, 2011, 9:30 PM CST
Opponent SB Nation Blog: Jewels From The Crown
The Dallas Stars continue their big five game road trip tonight in Los Angeles after dropping a 5-2 decision to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. It was their fifth loss in their last six road games with the Rangers, Islanders, and Devils pending on the schedule before an extended home stay coinciding with Christmas.
Though the Stars managed just 20 shots on goal Thursday (to the Sharks' 36), and scored only twice, the majority of fan and media attention in Dallas has focused on Andrew Raycroft's goaltending performances in the last two games. His record is a respectable 2-2 since Kari Lehtonen went down to a groin pull in Phoenix on November 26th, but his next start appears in jeopardy with Richard Bachman stopping all 11 shots faced in relief two nights ago.
"We'll talk tonight, but I think there's a good possibility that you'll see Bacher tomorrow,'' Gulutzan said. "We went through all of the tape but we just haven't had time to chat about it. There is a good chance we'll give Bacher an opportunity. He's a guy I'm familiar with and a guy we have lots of confidence in, and he's earned it in our organization."
The Kings, meanwhile, have lost four of five, three straight overall, and have been struggling to find the net as of late as the Sharks had been before Thursday's five goal outburst. As with San Jose, the Stars hope they can solve their own offensive woes rather than helping another team back to goal-scoring health. This is the fourth meeting of six between these teams already (and it's only December 10th).
A closer look at each team after the jump...
Brenden Morrow's return was a success as the Ribeiro line recorded two goals and an even +/- rating, though the Sharks poured on five even strength goals. Alex Goligoski was not so lucky in a -3 effort.
Where the Stars really need improvement is what had been their "number one" line. Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson have been deathly quiet for some time, and equally so on Thursday night in San Jose. A balanced scoring attack is needed to survive a road trip like this, and those guys are "due", as they say, to break out at any moment. A -2 on the score sheet was bad for Benn Thursday, and he won only 5 of 17 faceoffs. Stars fans look for that to change soon.
The real conversation in Stars-land these days, deserved or not despite the team's sub-par play in front of him, is Andrew Raycroft. He was pulled in favor of rookie Richard Bachman Thursday night, and there's much speculation that Bachman gets the start in Los Angeles.
"He's a real technical goalie, and you have to be with his stature. He reads the play really well," says Gulutzan. "The thing I like about Bacher is he's a battler. I can remember when we brought him in from the ECHL, and we were a little worried, but he did just fine and battled along the way." [DMN]
Stay tuned to DBD for updates on that front. These west coast games make for late morning skate updates. The good news is that there has been, to this point, no word on relapses from Morrow, Trevor Daley or Goligoski. All of them are expected to be in again tonight.
Dallas practiced with a different look on Friday, putting Grossman with Larsen, but Heika says the Goligoski-Larsen pairing has a good chance of sticking.
Whatever happens, the Stars will try to grab the lead first. They have done so in only 2 of their last 7 games. Not a recipe for success generally, as the average NHL win percentage when scoring first illustrates here.
As always Stars fans should checkout lakingsinsider.com for what might be the most comprehensive beat-writer coverage in all the land. No offense to our beloved Mike Heika. Rich Hammond continues to do a fabulous job covering the LA Kings from head to toe daily, and frequently.
He reports that Kings' head coach Terry Murray is not happy with the hit put on Anze Kopitar by Kyle Brodziak on Thursday night.
"I was worried about that one," said Murray. "That's a very dangerous play. You get cross-checked from behind into the boards like that. I've seen too many players blow their knees, legs, break their legs in those situations. I was very concerned about that one."
If you'll recall yesterday's links post, that's the hit (or rather the hittee) that prompted Puck Daddy to wonder whether or not embellished injuries should be punished by the league. Kopitar, as you might guess (this being the Kings), was well enough to not miss a shift, playing on the ensuing man-advantage.
Aside from that usual weirdness and semi-sportsmanlike fun that Staples Center has to offer, the Stars will see a team that is as good as they come defensively while still struggling to put the puck in the net. In their last seven games the Kings have scored just 12 goals, and never more than two in a given night. One was enough the last time Andrew Raycroft played at Staples as the Kings broke a 0-0 tie late in the third period on a weird shot, and won the game despite a severe out-chancing on the part of Dallas.
Center Mike Richards continues to miss time with an upper body injury that is understood to be concussion related.
Expect Jon Quick in net, of course.