Down in front!
This is a matchup of the third best team in the conference (according to the standings) and the twelfth best team. In any other year and in any other league it might be shocking to realize the difference between those two is a scant nine points but this season in the NHL it's just a dead horse we've been beating for the better part of five months. There is no separation.
So #3 versus #12 isn't some ridiculously predictable formality like it would be in the NBA. These points matter to both teams immensely. We should have another war on our hands today at 2:00pm on FSSW (Though, seriously, come on out to the game. It's a beautiful day.)
Dallas is looking to build some momentum from a dramatic come from behind win that saw them down 3-0 in the first period and trailing 3-2 at the second intermission before finishing a shootout victory over their old mate, Marty Turco. Before that they'd lost six of their last seven games. A win today would give them five points out of a possible six in this three-game home stand.
Columbus comes to Dallas having won four of their last five with a 6-3-1 record over their last ten. Their 13-10-4 road record is impressive for a team sitting in 12th place this morning.
The Stars will take the ice with a new face this afternoon, former Detroit Red Wing Jason Williams...
Jason Williams signed with the Dallas Stars on Saturday, making somewhat of a surprise for fans. Williams was not invited to any NHL training camps this year and struggled last year to come back from a broken leg. He was toiling in the AHL before receiving this call.
One word you'll see used when describing the 30 year old is "speed." He has it, supposedly. That bodes well for a team that typically has very little.
Francis Wathier was sent back to the Texas Stars yesterday and Toby Petersen is not thought to be ready so elementary math tells us Mr. Williams should be in the lineup today. The question is... where?
Jamie Langenbrunner primarily saw minutes with the third line on Wednesday night with Tomas Vincour taking some shifts with Morrow and Ribeiro. Presumably we'll see Vincour one more time but Williams could take that spot in the top three lines, pushing the young European down to the fourth trio with Sutherby and Gagnon.
Williams is a right handed shot so trying him with Ribeiro and Morrow is something that will be tried eventually. If his speed is as reported, he could be an intriguing option with Tom Wandell and Steve Ott.
We expect Kari Lehtonen to be in net Sunday afternoon. No morning skate means we won't find out any more detail until puck drop.
If you're not coming (plenty of seats to go around... no Blue Jackets fans around here that we know of, unlike the Hawks fans...) then please join us here for our GDT.
The Blue Jackets:
Controversial officiating has dominated the two games these clubs have played thus far. The Stars were winning in the very late stages in Ohio in December 6th when Karlis Skrastins was whisteled for seemingly breathing oxygen and existing. The Jackets would tie the game and win in overtime 3-2.
Two weeks later the Stars were the beneficiaries of a goaltender interference call against the Columbus and won 2-1. A clean game would be welcome in deciding things today.
Speaking of a clean game, the Jackets haven't allowed a PP goal in their last two games and took only one minor on Wednesday, a delay of game penalty. We've underlined the importance of winning the special teams battle for Dallas here in this space. They'll have to earn their chances against a disciplined Blue Jacket team.
Then again, these teams have never had much trouble generating PIM's when they get together.
Right winger Derek Dorsett hit his head on the ice in their last game in a collision and did not make the trip to Dallas. He will be out today.