Sunday, March 4th, 2012, 5:00 PM CST
Opponent Blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline
The Dallas Stars enter this one on their longest points streak of the year, having gone 5-0-1 in their last six as they continue to keep their heads above water in the tight Western Conference playoff race. Solid outings against good team in the Canucks and Penguins have been encouraging, but they have a chance to do some real damage to a direct competitor tonight in the Calgary Flames.
"We're in a dog fight," said Sheldon Souray after the win Friday night. "It sounds like a broken record, but we're looking at the standings every night and we're trying to take care of our own business. It was a good start to this road trip."
The game was not a pretty one to behold, and the goals matched the muddled nature of the play, but the Stars were happy to get the two points and move on.
"Not our best outing," said Glen Gulutzan, "but we've got to take points right now and not worry about how we're getting there."
The Flames enter this one having lost their 15th consecutive game at the Honda Center in Orange County. The game appeared headed to overtime when Ryan Getzlaf scored with just 46 seconds remaining to give the Ducks the full two points, sending Calgary home with none. They have just one win in their last six games overall, but like everyone else in the Western Conference race they keep games close and pick up a lot of overtime loss points.
The newly reinforced Los Angeles Kings now sit just a single point behind Dallas and are surging, having won three of four, including a 4-2 win over Anaheim last night. They represent the single greatest threat to Dallas' tenuous grasp on the final playoff spot. The pressure is squarely on the Stars moving forward.
This one is at a bit of an unusual time: 5:00pm CST, so be advised. You don't want to miss it.
Much more on each team after the jump...
There remains, thankfully, little to say about the Stars roster in this space once again because the team has maintained some semblance of healthy and consistency (knock on wood. Do it!) over the last little bit. The lines should be the same as they have been.
Make an exception for Toby Petersen, who flew back to Dallas because his pregnant wife went into labor. We wish his family well, and it's unclear as of this writing if he'll fly back up and join the team in time for this one. He may not have played anyway, because Wandell, Garbutt and Vincour is working for Glen Gulutzan right now.
From Stars PR: "The Stars have not lost a game in regulation to a Canadian team this season, earning a 7-0-1 record in eight games against them. Their only loss was against the Toronto Maple Leafs in late November (3-4 L**). They also have a 9-3-0 record against Northwest Division opponents."
The Stars did not take a single penalty in Edmonton on Friday night, which was surprisingly the second time that's happened this year. They lost the other sinless game at home to the Red Wings on January 3rd.
Kari Lehtonen will start in net. As Brandon pointed out last night, he is 8-4-3 with a 2.06 GAA and .926 save percentage since the All-Star break.
Calgary has 11 of their remaining 17 games at Scotiabank Saddledome, but the Stars represent two of them and should not take the opportunity lightly. Big wins in this building (and one additional match-up at the AAC) would go a very, very long way toward directly knocking an opponent out of the race. The two essentially hold each others fates in their respective hands, should one side sweep the remaining contests.
Here are the scores of the Flames last 10 games:
2-3, 4-2, 1-3, 4-4, 3-3, 1-6, 1-0, 2-3, 5-1, 2-2.
I like to look at a team's game log and find trends. i.e. "They're scoring well. They're defending well. They're not. Their power play is carrying them. Their penalty kill is killing them." Etc. There's no such luck to be had here. They'll out-score you 4-2, they'll shut you out 1-0, they'll get beat 6-1, or they'll keep it close. They're all over the place.
They have been to overtime in six of their last thirteen games, including the 3-2 loss to Dallas after Mike Ribeiro's highlight ender. They have only three regulation losses in their last 13 games, which sounds impressive. That being said, they also have one win in their last six. The magic of the loser point is keeping them in this race. They are 5-3-5 over those thirteen games. Their "winning percentage" is quite poor.
"It's a game we have to come out of with points," Cammalleri said after their loss to the Ducks. "Not good enough. I don't know what else to say. To give up a goal with 40 seconds left ... really unacceptable with where we're sitting right now."
They'll be a motivated bunch, that's for sure. It's crunch time for the Flames.