Friday, January 20th, 2011, 7:30 PM CST
American Airlines Center
Opponent Blog: Raw Charge
The Dallas Stars got the kind of efforts they wanted in a back to back set with the Blues and Red Wings earlier this week, but didn't get the results they wanted. A total of three goals scored in their last three games combined with just one point earned in that stretch has the injured Stars looking for more in these last three games leading up to the break.
"We've just got to keep sticking with it with kind of a depleted lineup with our two big centermen out, but this is the way we're going to have to play," said Brenden Morrow. "Just scratch and claw for 60 minutes and hope for breaks."
The Lightning present a tough challenge down the middle for Dallas. While the Stars are missing their top two centermen and puck possessors in Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro, pivots Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos are healthy and clicking. Stamkos leads the league in goals and it will be up to Vernon Fiddler and Tom Wandell to try to shut down the pair.
Tampa Bay had lost seven straight before an uplifting win at home against the Stanley Cup Champion Bruins on Tuesday night at home. With practice under their belts and some rest, they'll look to build on that and take advantage of a wounded Stars team that has lost three in a row and four of their last five.
The Phoenix Coyotes pulled even with the Stars last night, but Dallas remains in 10th place in the Western Conference.
From Stars PR: "The Dallas Stars meet for their first and only contest of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night. This will be Dallas' first game against them since Oct. 18, 2010 (4-5 L), and their first at home since Nov. 28, 2009 (4-3 W, OT)."
More on each team after the jump...
Even when injured players return these days for Dallas, it's not really over. Sheldon Souray's ankle sprain has healed but he's now dealing with a foot problem, and Stephane Robidas' issue appears to never have truly gone away.
"It's a foot for Sheldon. He took a shot off his foot," said Glen Gulutzan. "With Robi, it's his foot as well. He had an MRI and he does have a hairline fracture in there that he's obviously going to play with, but it's not healed. He is going to be able to play with it."
The All-Star break will come at a good time for those two, but Adam Burish was dealing with a stress fracture last year at the break and it kept him out for an extended period of time later in the year, so nothing is guaranteed with that kind of injury. Luckily for the Stars they'll get one additional body to use in the mean time as Philip Larsen was activated officially from IR yesterday.
Glen Gulutzan said Larsen could be available Friday night but seemed to lean toward working him in on Saturday instead, giving him some fresh legs on the back to back after traveling. He said he would not dress seven defensemen for this game.
Kari Lehtonen will get the start after a rest on Tuesday, and he could possibly play both games of this set, as Gulutzan did not rule out the possibility on Thursday morning. He said they'd evaluate after this one on the way to Minnesota.
Forward lines are expected to stay the same as they were against both St. Louis and Detroit.
Tampa Bay enters with the overall road record of 6-16-3, including 2-10-1 in their last 13 tries. They've lost six straight away from home and have been outscored 27-11 in that stretch. The Lightning have the distinction of being the team with the league's worst GA/G at 3.47.
Their power play is even worse than the Stars' on the season at 13.7%, but still boasts superior talent in Stamkos, Lecavalier and St. Louis, to name only a few. Like the Ducks, they have premium weapons but have struggled this year to put the puck in the net and should in no way be overlooked here tonight. It's a dangerous team coming off an inflating win against the Stanley Cup champs.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Boucher yelled at a recent practice, "If it's not intense enough, we'll do this for the next half-hour." and "We're not going to start cheating because we won one game. We want more games. We want more work." [Tampabay.com] That was after beating the best-team-in-the-league Boston Bruins.
It should be a battle to the death between two desperate teams that need points in a bad way tonight. Tampa has a -39 goal differential in 25 road games and have surrendered a league high 93 goals away from home.
The Lighting lineup as of late...
According to the AP "Boucher said Thursday he had not decided whether Mathieu Garon or Dwayne Roloson will be in net. Garon has one victory in six career starts in Dallas, while Roloson is 0-2-0 with a 4.79 goals-against average in his last three starts there." [AP]