The Dallas Stars have not won their third game in a row since February 3rd, 2009. That's 73 games ago by my count, if you're interested.
They have an opportunity to do just that early this afternoon against the Vancouver Canucks, but they'll have to solve a hot team and reverse some pretty stubborn trends if they're to get it done. First up: the afternoon scheduling hurdle. The Stars were 1-5 in afternoon games last season, and are 1-0-1 so far this year. I don't think it's a stretch for anyone who watches this team regularly to say that the Stars struggle to get their legs going in afternoon contests.
Next up: Offense. The Stars have scored 5 goals in consecutive games, a trend that's been rather unsustainable for this team this year. They have gone weeks without scoring more than two per game. Meanwhile Vancouver comes in having allowed only 8 goals in their last 5 games (1.6 GAA). After having won two in a row on strong offensive performances, I wonder if Dallas can keep it up. Winning streaks in this league need to come from strong offensive performances as well as defense and goaltending. Can Marty Turco and his band of merry d-men carry this team to a win?
All that having been said, isn't it time for this team to buck the trends and the "lose one-win one" cycle, and just keep it rolling, or is that crazy? The new forward lines have produced 10 goals since their reorganization, and the defense has Daley and Fistric back. There hasn't been a better chance this year than right now for the Stars to make a move. They need to stockpile points before heading out on the road for a very tough January.
After the jump, a look at both teams and injury updates...
Given the success of the last two games, we would strongly expect the newly constructed lines to remain the same:
Mike Ribeiro looked more like his old self on Thursday night against Anaheim. The puck found his stick more often than not, and his tendency to overstay a shift even paid off in the form of the first Eriksson goal. Is Ribeiro back, or was it just his classic tendency to dominate Pacific division opponents?
Loui Eriksson said Thursday that Jere Lehtinen's presence on the Richards line is affording him opportunity to be more offensive minded. Given his recent production and increased scoring chances, it's hard to argue with that. The Stars had the puck more than usual against the Ducks thanks in part to a rare edge in faceoff wins. The Canucks are statistically a much better faceoff team than Dallas, so that could affect their ability to get shots on Luongo this afternoon.
These teams have played twice already this year, each winning in the others' building.
SB Nation Canucks Blog Nucks Misconduct tells you what Vancouver has been up to and offers a comparative stat preview of the matcup:
The Canucks are gathering steam and confidence for the second half of the season, as they seem to have put their road woes behind them. They are 2-0-1 on their current road trip and 8-10-1 for the season. Looking much better. Erasing a 3-0 deficit and then beating the Blues in OT last game has to help too. A hell of a New Year's gift for Canucks fans. This is the final game of the 4-game road trip. The Canucks will then return home to play 4 games at GM Place.
GOALS PER GAME: Canucks 4th, Stars 7th
FEWEST GOALS AGAINST PER GAME: Canucks 8th, Stars 22nd
5 ON 5: Canucks 4th, Stars 16th
POWER PLAY: Canucks 4th, Stars 11th
PENALTY KILL: Canucks 17th, Stars 25th
SHOTS PER GAME: Stars 5th, Canucks 11th
SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME: Canucks 10th, Stars 20th
WINNING % WHEN SCORING FIRST: Canucks 11th, Stars 23rd
WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 2: Canucks 6th, Stars 23rd
FACEOFFS: Canucks 11th, Stars 27th
The Canucks are pretty dominant, at least statistically. Why has that translated into only 2 points more than Dallas, with a game in hand for the Stars?
Dallas: Amazingly, none (at the moment)
Vancouver: Center Ryan Johnson (foot) and Kevin Bieksa (skate cut on his left ankle) are out.