When last we saw the Dallas Stars, they had snatched a regulation victory over the Phoenix Coyotes from the jaws of their own mistakes, giving up a two goal lead in the final minute of that game. Jamie Benn's goal with 4.8 seconds remaining was called the goal of the year so far and the Stars were sitting pretty in 6th place.
After two days off and through no fault of their own, they find themselves now in 9th place, and with a regulation loss tonight can finish as low as 10th and as high as 4th.
How many times can it be said? That is completely and utterly ridiculous! That's their reality, however, and they don't want to be chasing, so they have to win this game tonight in Anaheim; A place they haven't won since October of 2009.
The Stars were frustrated in their first visit to Honda Center, a 4-2 loss. The Ducks out shot them 18-5 in the first period but Dallas hung around until the third period where Anaheim was too much, scoring three times. That was a sixth straight win for the Ducks.
Things are a little different this time. The Stars come in riding a three game win streak, and while the Ducks have won two straight at home, they had lost five in a row before that. In their last six games they've been held to just twelve total goals (and a penalty shot goal).
Still, the Ducks will be confident after a 2-1 win over Detroit on Wednesday in which they killed eight of nine power plays surrendered. Nine power plays surrendered? Same old Ducks, right? Not so fast. In the three games prior they had give up only five total power play opportunities and have killed off 13 of the last 14 altogether. Needless to say, a power play goal or two would be huge for Dallas tonight.
Maybe Brad Richards can help with that...Or can he?
Brad Richards skated with the Stars in Phoenix on Thursday and while he went through the practice he said afterward that he wasn't feeling 100% out there due to lingering effects from the concussion.
"My legs felt good, but it was just seeing people and dodging people, that's a different test. They told me it would be,'' Richards said. "I talked with Stu, and he said that sometimes the first time you skate just the motion of people going across your face would seem a little off and I had that."
Forgive the pun, that sounds very much like it's "in his head" and would hamper his potential performance if he carried that reservation into a game situation. Hopefully we will feel better about morning skate today but it might just be better for everyone if he continues to take it slow.
Richards and Grossman both feel the pressure to get back into the lineup but the game is being played at such a high level by all teams in this race that they'd do their teammates no favors by trying to fake it while not truly ready.
We'll update the site when information trickles out of morning skate. The west coast and the late start, and the fact that the away team typically skates second at morning skates means news will be hard to come by until well after lunch time in DFW.
Meanwhile, expect for Jamie Benn to continue to anchor two lines and for Kari Lehtonen to get the start in net, meaning Raycroft could play tomorrow in San Jose.
Jonas Hiller is still out for Anaheim with vertigo. Expect to see Dan Ellis in net who is 5-4 lifetime against the Stars, and watch out for Bobby Ryan. He has 13 points in 16 career games against Dallas and is turning into quite the Star killer.
Remember also that the game is on FSSW+ (Or as we like to call it, Fox Sports Ocho)
From Stars PR:
Friday’s 3/4 game at Anaheim will be carried on FSSW Plus in markets carrying Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder and SEC college basketball (Arkansas & Louisiana) games and on FOX Sports Southwest and FOX Sports Houston in all other markets.
Below are FOX Sports Southwest Plus channel numbers for program providers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area:
Friday 3/4 at Anaheim
Time Warner Ch. 960
Charter Communications Ch. 300
DirecTV Ch. 677 (677-1 HD)
Dish Network Ch. 451
AT&T U-Verse Ch. 756
Verizon Fios Ch. 77 (HD 577)
FOX Sports Southwest Plus channel numbers for markets outside DFW can be found on our websitehttp://www.foxsportssouthwest.com/pages/tvlisting_foxsportsplus/0