Sunday, February 26th, 2012, 2:00 PM CST
American Airlines Center
Opponent Blog: Nucks Misconduct
After winning three in a row for the first time since early December, the Stars have claimed a share of eighth place and are looking to keep it this afternoon in a matinee affair with the Vancouver Canucks.
"They've got a great team and they went to the Finals for a reason," said Gulutzan Saturday. "We're going to have to be defensively sound and disciplined for sure."
Dallas hopes they've found the right way to play after this win streak, even with Jamie Benn out of the lineup with a leg laceration. The club has allowed just two goals against in their last three games and only nine against in their last six over all.
"For us now to be on the same page, to be putting the onus on each other to do the right play, I think has been a big key of late," Steve Ott told media Saturday. "Now that we are getting the results that we want it is proving to the guys in the dressing room that this is the right way for this team to play.
For Dallas, the Canucks represent something of a road block where last season is concerned. Vancouver out-scored the Stars by an utterly dominating score of 20-5 in four wins last year (4-0-0) and this is just the team's first meeting of the year. 4 games with the Canucks in their remaining 20 are going to drastically affect Dallas' ability to make the post-season, and the Stars must start battling that adversity with positive results this afternoon.
Much more on each team after the jump...
Jamie Benn will miss this one as well as his leg laceration heals. He skated again on Saturday, but isn't 100% and he's hoping that Wednesday can be a viable return date. Gulutzan called him out for Sunday and 50/50 for Wednesday, so we'll see. The Stars have been managing without their best player recently and will have to continue the trend to keep hope alive, whether he's in or not.
Aside from Benn, a primary concern for Stars fans is Philip Larsen, who took a slap shot to the head on Friday night at home against Minnesota, suffering a laceration in the process. The real concern, of course, is the danger of a concussion, and that's something he's already been through once this season.
"It hurt," said Larsen on Saturday, which was plain for any observer to see. "I was a little groggy, but that is pretty normal. I don't have the symptoms. Just wanted to make sure everything was OK. I am fine."
With the early start time, a morning skate is out of the question, so his status could be determined just minutes before game time after the skate around Sunday afternoon. If he's able to go, expect to see him back with Alex Goligoski, Stephane Robidas with Sheldon Souray, and Mark Fistric with Trevor Daley.
If not, then Adam Pardy will come back into the lineup and further shuffling will be necessary. Check DBD for the latest around game time.
Kari Lehtonen will start in goal. His shutout bid was ended with consecutive 5-on-3's against Friday night, though he did establish a career record scoreless streak out 136:38 in the effort, stretching past the Montreal game and back into the game against Nashville the week before.
Vancouver is as defensively sound as they come, allowing just 17 goals in their last 9 games (1.88 per), and six of the nine were on the road.
They've gone on an incredible run of 12-1-3 since mid-January and are just what everyone expects them to be this late in the season: Impervious and surging upward - The league's best team at 86 points and a favorite to go deep in the post-season once again.
They're second in the league in wins (40, to Detroit's 41), they're third in the league in scoring at 3.13 goals per game, and they're sixth in the league in defense at just 2.34 goals against per game (compare with 2.68 in Dallas). To match those numbers, they have the league's second best power play and the fifth best penalty kill. They are, in short, a perfect NHL specimen, and the Dallas Stars must deal with them without Brenden Morrow, Jamie Benn, and possibly Philip Larsen.
After breaking up Detroit's league record consecutive home wins, the Canucks went to New Jersey to record a 2-1 win in which they were out-shot 31-16. They're looking for a more complete effort on the road in Dallas today.
Cory Schneider has earned two of the last three Canuck's wins heading into this one, but he played against New Jersey in their previous outing, so we'd tend to lean toward thinking Roberto Luongo will get this one this afternoon.
Our friends over at "Nucks Misconduct" see this one like this...
Ok here's the deal with this one. The Canucks have not played the Stars yet this season. After tomorrow's game, they play each other THREE times in March for the 4 total. There is never much love here when these 2 teams butt heads. Part of it is Vancouver knocking the Stars out of the playoffs in 2007. Another part of it is that the Stars employ Steve Ott, Erik Nystrom and Adam Burish. When you combine those 2 aspects with the fact that the Stars are 3rd in the NHL in hits, well, you know how this game is going to go: It's going to be a rough and tough one.