Life goes on for the remaining Dallas Stars tonight as new faces and new line combinations continue to be the story in the season's final 12 games.
One undeniable positive for tonight: At least this three-game series with the Ducks will be over. To think of it as such is a shame, because any other season it might have been a contentious roller coaster ride to decide much. This year, with the deflationary reverberations of the trade deadline permeating the mood, it has been fairly miserable for the team and its fans.
There's still plenty of reason to watch, of course. The line combinations, completely re-made ahead of Wednesday's game, get re-made again.
When it was revealed that Loui Eriksson would place center Wednesday night there were some adverse reactions from fans and media alike. Eriksson did well enough, even winning 50% of his draws through two periods but eventually found himself back on a wing in the third period as Glen Gulutzan tried to engineer a comeback. Tonight the lines are a little more along the lines of what you might expect (or maybe would just like to see) with this particular group.
From Mike Heika via Twitter:
So the big stories here are that Matt Fraser and Alex Chiasson continue to get a big opportunity to show something at the NHL level against a team that is thinking Stanley Cup, as maybe of the Stars' remaining opponents will be (Kings 2x, Sharks 3x, Canucks, Blackhawks... yeesh).
Fiddler and Nystrom will be reunited with the ever meandering Erik Cole assigned with them. He can provide some possession skills and size with that line the way Vinour did from time to time. Of course, that all leaves an "energy" line containing some fairly gritty individuals. It might be fun to see what that group can do in a few choice spots, though thus far the Ducks have not been overly interested in extracurricular activities.
The defensive pairings from morning skate via Heika:
On defense it will be interesting to continue to get a look at Brenden Dillon away from the safety blanket of Stephane Robidas. Many thought his game was challenged Wednesday, though he took a +2 rating back to the hotel with him after a game they lost 5-2.
As far as the Ducks go, Ryan Getzlaf is probable, battling a lower injury. Jamie Benn has been unable to stop Getzlaf, who has a goal and four assists against Dallas this week. Nick Bonino is still expected to be out, but otherwise they're healthy. Viktor Fasth will be in goal to shut down the Stars once again.