Out of the frying pan and into the fire...
That's exactly what is facing the Dallas Stars tonight as they go from taking one on the chin from a bottom-feeding but extremely motivated club in Edmonton, travel a couple of hours directly south and head into Calgary to take on a Calgary Flames squad that a little over a month ago was given up for hockey dead as they themselves languished near the basement of the Western Conference, only to right their ship and start charging back up the standings.
Many Flames fans would point to the game on December 23rd - when Calgary came into Dallas and stunned the Stars by rallying in the third period and ultimately winning in a shootout - as a turning point for the Flames season. The Flames have gone 14-4-5 since that game on the 23rd - a second win against the Stars amoung those 14 wins - and are now surging in the race for playoff position in the west.
The Stars meanwhile have been treading water since that same fateful night before the night before Christmas going an even 10-10-3. It hasn't been an outright disaster for the Stars but simply playing .500 hockey in the west won't cut it.
Dallas had a chance last night in Edmonton to at least have one-third of this Western Canadian road swing a success, but after walking away humbled by the 30th placed team in the NHL, things look bleak for the Stars for the next week at the very least.
But then many Flames fans were saying the same thing the morning of December 23rd when the Flames were mired in their own three game slide. So if it can happen for the Flames, maybe Stars fans can take away hope that the Stars may be due for a turnaround as well.
Stars fans in the local Dallas area should know that tonight's contest is on FSSW+ so best of luck finding it on your TV dial. Canadian Stars fans (represent!) can catch tonight's game on TSN's Wednesday Night Hockey.
(More notes about both sides after the jump)
It's not much but at the very least the Stars were able to escape Edmonton without any more injuries last night so if you need a silver lining to a 4-1 loss, there is that. The Stars will still be without Nicklas Grossman who is on the trip with the club but still day-to-day. Brad Richards worked out in Dallas yesterday and the thinking is he'll be rejoining the team when they head into Vancouver for their Saturday contest against the Canucks. Moving on from the injury front, the Stars had managed to get points out from contests against the Flames in five of their last six meetings - the one game they failed to gain even a loser point was the last contest the Stars had in Calgary when the Flames drilled them 7-4 back in late January. The Stars are also on the right side of the win-loss column when it comes to back-to-back games having a record of 10-7-0 going into tonight, problem is they are a less than impressive 3-5-0 on the second half of those back to back runs this season.
The Flames are feeling pretty darn good about themselves coming off an absolute 9-1 massacre of the Colorado Avalanche on Valentines Day (see what I did there?). They come into tonight's game fairly healthy and having only lost once in regulation so far in the month of February and are 7-1-2 in their last ten games. Jarome Iginla who back over a month ago was prime trade-bait in Calgary due to their struggles topped the 25 goal mark with his two goal effort against the Avalanche while Curtis Glencross is one off the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career and Rene Bourque is three off the pace. Mika Kiprusoff will get the start for the Flames tonight and has won three of his last five contests against the Stars.