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Gameday Preview: Anaheim Ducks @ Dallas Stars (7:30 pm CST)

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Anaheim Ducks (10-12-4, 14th in West)
@ Dallas Stars (12-8-7, 9th in West)

Thursday, Dec 3, 2009, 7:30 PM CST
American Airlines Center

Radio: KTCK 1310 The Ticket

Opponent's Blog: Anaheim Calling

Complete Coverage >

Hopefully Brad convinced you during last night's podcast to not take the Ducks lightly.

For one, the Ducks have been playing better as of late. Though they've lost their last two to Phoenix and Los Angeles, they had won 4 out of their last 5 with three straight wins over Calgary, Carolina, and Chicago.

Still, they're mired in 14th in the West in large part because of the slow start they had to the season. As Stars fans, we're all too familiar with how tough a climb that is considering the slow starts Dallas had in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

The Dallas Stars:

Last night on the podcast, we talked quite a bit about the inconsistencies of the Stars and just where we should put the finger of blame. Yesterday, Brad pontificated on the state of the Stars' offense and this is what he found:

Nearly a third of every Dallas Star goal has been scored with a man advantage. Relying on your PP for a third of your offense is not an ideal strategy, but look at what they did in November: 15 of their 31 goals were scored on special teams. They're clinging to the power play for dear life like a life-preserver in the middle of the ocean. And if that's not enough of a fine line to walk, we can look even closer to see that things not only hinge on one part of their game (the PP) but on one man in particular: Brad Richards.

The power play has always been a big part of Brad Richards' game, and the Center is getting ample opportunity to put points on the board this season with the extra man. After a decade of Sergei Zubov as the Stars power play quarterback, the special teams unit found itself in need of a new leader and Richards has been more than happy to fill in. He has seen his PPTOI (power play time on ice) per game increase from 4:05 last season to 5:20 this year. Only four other NHL players spend more time on the power play this season. His power play production is also helped by the fact that the Stars are first in the league in power play opportunities with 128.

Richards has been on the ice for 24 of the Stars' 26 power play goals. He missed one of them due to injury, and has sat on the bench only once and watched his team get one without him. In other words, if Brad Richards isn't on the ice, don't hold your breath on the PP.

Usually when an offense is struggling, expect some lines to be juggled. Tonight's game will be no different as coach Marc Crawford threw out the following lines during Wednesday's practice, according to Mike Heika.


Sutherby and Barch are also options


The Anaheim Ducks

Despite the slow start, the guys at Anaheim Calling are feeling a little chipper. I'll let them explain:


We will, of course, take a second to admire the awesomeness of Chipchura's name, and I personally hope that he skates around the ice saying his name like a Pokémon.

All jokes aside, Chipchura has a little size and is supposed to be a defensive forward. But after a 4-2-1 homestand that ended with two losses to division opponents, will Chipchura have any observable effect on the Ducks turning their game around, or is this just a sign that we'll be moving more impressive assets later and filling in with unwanted former First Rounders?


Two seasons ago, Chipchura was a 12-minute guy, and if Nokelainen picks up Marchant's PK minutes or if we promote a healthy Ryan Carter to the third line, then this could still spell the end of Todd Marchant. But Chipchura just doesn't feel like the player that can make the front office more comfortable with that move, unless, as I said, they're feeling really good about Nokelainen or Carter.


I think the most telling part of this trade is how difficult this question is to answer. Chipchura gives no indication that he will be an impact player. However, the fact that he has some size, something we need, and more experience than the likes of Beleskey and Sharp gives the impression that Murray is trying to do something to keep us playing well and get us into the playoffs. Murray is engaging in a massive misdirection campaign and has been since last year's trade deadline.

Long story short, Bob Murray is engaging in the same thing we've seen the Stars engage in when they've had slow starts. Low risk-high reward move. If it works, you've gained a player, possibly for years to come.

Like when the Stars picked up Brian Sutherby, Darryl Sydor, and Steve Begin last season. Syd and Begin obviously didn't work out. Sutherby obviously did and I think that's what Murray is hoping Chipchura can bring to the Ducks.

Key Injuries:

Anaheim: LW Kyle Calder (Hyphema), LW Joffrey Lupul (Back spasms), and C Ryan Carter (Fractured foot) are out

Dallas: No injuries to report