The Dallas Stars will be without their leading scorer each of the last three seasons in Mike Ribeiro tonight as they attempt to avoid their 4th straight regulation loss against the New York Islanders.
"The Islanders, you say? We can beat the Islanders, right?"
Not so fast there, Stars fan. The Islanders are 5-1-1 in their last seven games, and they're about to get their oft injured starting netminder Rick DiPietro back (possibly tonight). After having faced Luongo, Brodeur, and Henrik Lundqvist in consecutive games, getting someone's backup would have been a nice change of pace for Dallas, which isn't to say that the 40 year old Dwayne Roloson hasn't filled in quite nicely. His record speaks for itself.
Dallas, meanwhile, is in full desperation mode. Or they should be. They've been stuck on 47 points since 2009, they were grossly outplayed in their trips to New Jersey and NYC, they're going to be without Mike Ribeiro for the next 18 games, and they're standing in the Western Conference is a very tenuous 10th place. Yesterday Brenden Morrow told BaD Radio they've been having those kinds of "team meetings" you hear about when things get desperate, like we heard about the Blue Jackets when last they were in Dallas.
The Islanders have not visited Dallas since 2006 when they shutout the Stars 3-0. I don't know that there's much to say about this one, folks. We all know the situation. The players have to make it happen on the ice. Someone needs to step up and make some plays. It could be Marty Turco, it could be the power play, it could be a great game from a particular line...whatever it is, they need it to happen tonight.
Update: The Morning News reports that Nick Grossman is out tonight with an undisclosed injury.
Additionally, we encourage you to head over to the SB Nation NHL front page to check out SB Nation's mid-season award coverage.
Follow the jump for speculation on line combinations and a word from "Lighthouse Hockey"...
With Mike Ribeiro on the mend, the lines will receive a shakeup of sorts. Warren Peters was recalled from Cedar Park yesterday but it is unclear as of yet if he will play.
Fabian Brunnstrom will stay with the Texas Stars until his conditioning stint is up on Wednesday.
Tom Wandell is an interesting case, and perhaps the key to the Stars season moving forward. Razor has made a point to mention Wandell on several broadcasts recently, remarking that while he passes the eyeball test, his contributions do not appear on the score sheet. We've raved about his work ethic and his speed all season long, but in his last seventeen games, playing as many as 15 minutes a night sometimes, he has one assist. One assist in seventeen games. He will receive ample opportunity to improve that stat.
The power play can be expected to struggle a little more without Ribeiro, one would think. Faceoffs are an area of Ribeiro's game that we have lamented this season (44.5%), but Wandell is not much better (45.2%).
As I mentioned, New York is 5-1-1 in their last seven games, and they're coming off a nice win in Denver on Wednesday night.
Head on over to SB Nation Blog: Lighthouse Hockey for some Islander flavor after their game in Denver:
Calm. That's what Dwayne Roloson showed me tonight through all of his ridiculous saves. Calm.
Even amid the miscommunication with Bruno Gervais, when Roloson went behind the net and played it to the corner but Gervais instead headed to guard the net (Mark Streit was also headed behind the net, on the other side), which led to Matt Duchene having an almost-open-net-except-for-that-glove.
Yes, even on that flustercuck of a play, Roloson did not panic: He just calmly slipped back toward the net, diving to glove Duchene's shot as if easing into a plush chaise lounge.
Enthusiasm. That's what Rob Schremp's play showed me tonight. Not "aren't I a hot dangler?" enthusiasm, but enthusiasm for playing this great game. And he did have a great game: He created the offense that led to Jon Sim's goal (shot distance: 2.5 feet), he extended offensive chances with his stickhandling, and of course, he scored The Goal. A goal that probably only he or fellow lacrosse vet John Tavares scores. It might've been Schremp's best game as an Islander even without that goal, but The Goal adds a nice identifier to it.
But all my faux-baseball-columnist blathering leaves out the biggest, most fundamentally sound play of the night: Kyle Okposo's perfect execution of a 3-on-2 for the game-winner with 3:17 left to go.
On second thought, maybe DiPietro playing would be better.
They also have some unflattering words for the Dallas Stars after Sean Avery collected 4 points on Wednesday night. All of those words, by the way, the Dallas Stars deserve.
The other player probably most interesting to Stars fans is former Dallas winger Jon Sim. He has four goals in the last five games for the Isles and is still plugging away at a career that started in 1999 with the Stars. Remember, his name is on the Stanley Cup with that team.
Dallas: Mike Ribeiro (throat contusion) out 6 weeks. Grossman out (undisclosed injury)
Islanders: Tim Jackman (eye)
Um, Go Stars?