Dallas Stars @ Anaheim Ducks: Five (Other) Things To Watch For Tonight

Five (other) things to watch for tonight:

I think it's fair to say there will be a lot on the line tonight in Anaheim as Dallas takes on the Ducks. An always-contentious time between the two, both teams find the clock is winding down on their seasons and both are jockeying furiously to make the playoffs.

With a win Dallas can find themselves propelled from 9th to 4th in the Western Conference but a loss will see the Ducks skip ahead of Dallas in points and possibly from 11th place to the 8th and final playoff spot.

Dallas's road record and record against Pacific division rivals are the same at about .500. As I discussed in my last article, Dallas is going to have to start stealing some road games from normally stingy teams like Anaheim who are 19-10-2 at home if they want to secure their place in the second-season.

So, other than whether or not Brad Richards will play tonight [Update: He will not] here are five things to look for as you take in the big game...

Continued after the jump...

#1. Dallas needs to stay out of the box. The Stars have been good on the penalty kill lately killing 15 of 17 for 88% which would be good for first in the league if they did that every night but overall the team is still 24th. Keep in mind, those 17 times short-handed came in the last 5 games and is reflected with a 3-2 record; one loss being the 1-0 loss to New Jersey - the one goal being a power play goal.

More importantly, Anaheim ranks 4th in the league in power play percentage while only ranking 24th in opportunities. Look for Anaheim to try to ruffle feathers to create some more chances for their power play units.

#2. Loui Eriksson is hot. Even with the absence of Richards the last 7 games, Eriksson has managed 6 points in those 7. Already impressing the hockey community this season with five and ten-game point streaks and an All-Star invite, expect the Ducks to have his number circled, with or without Richards in the lineup.

#3. Dan Ellis and Kari Lehtonen are hot as well. Former Star Dan Ellis has been very good for Anaheim since they acquired him to help out after Jonas Hiller went down. He's 2-0-1 with a 1.92 GAA and .930 save percentage in his three games with his new club. Even in his last 7 appearances including his last few games with Tampa Bay, he's 4-0-2 with a 1.83 GAA and .931 save percentage.

Kari Lehtonen has been no slouch in his last few games since Dallas as whole has started to trend up going 3-1-0 with a 1.51 GAA and .948 SV%.

#3A. Speaking of former Stars, be on the look out for Brad Winchester who was traded to the Ducks at the deadline from St. Louis. His name tends to be mentioned a lot when facing his former team.

#4. Jamie Benn TOI. Much ado lately about ice time for young Benn having been double-shifted and even triple-shifted adding some wing time for coach Crawford. Benn has responded in-spades the last few games, often being the best player on the ice for the Stars. In addition to watching his time on the ice, watch him back-check through the neutral zone. He's good for at least one forced turnover a night.

(For more on Benn)

5. Cam Fowler. The rookie defenseman was passed over by the Stars in this year's entry draft instead taken up by the Ducks and put almost immediately to work. With a tremendous offensive upside, he ranks 7th on the team in points with 29 and 3rd in power play assists. However, he is a woeful -22 good for last on the team by more than double the next closest competitor for the position.

Considering the topic of prospect patience, it will be interesting to see what he may have brought to the Stars system as a rookie and possibly speculate among ourselves what he could bring with a little AHL seasoning.

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