Home game #39 sees the NHL's worst bunch come to the American Airlines Center. Edmonton has actually clinched the league's worst record, assuring themselves the best chance at winning the draft lottery and getting the number one pick in June's NHL entry draft.
Here's one positive for the Oilers: The Stars are one of only two teams they have a winning record against in the conference. The other is the Detroit Red Wings, whom they somehow beat 3 times this season, and nearly beat the other night, staging a 4 goal comeback that fell just short in a 5-4 loss at the Joe. (Aside: How have the Red Wings lost 3 games each to the Stars and Oilers and yet will likely finish with ~100 points?)
Tonight marks the return of Mike Modano to the lineup after a nine game absence following surgery to remove his (un)ruptured appendix. Fearing this might be his last game against his old rivals, we put some notes together on Mike's career versus the Oil here.
Dallas is coming off a 5-1 thumping of the Sharks on Wednesday night. They've outscored the Sharks 8-2 in their last two meetings at home, winning 4 out of 6 total against the top team in the West. Yet they've lost 2 of 3 to the league worst Oilers. The maddening inconsistency of the Dallas Stars resumes tonight at 7:30pm...
Follow the jump for more news and notes...
AHL goaltender Matt Climie is with the team this week, and the speculation around the team is that he could start on Saturday against St. Louis. Mike Heika says that because of his rehab time, the team got to know Brent Krahn a little bit, but wanted a closer look at, and some time with Climie before the season is out. Climie has a .921 save percentage and a 21-16-3 record with Texas this year.
With Lethonen starting tonight, and Climie possibly getting a start, that leaves only three additional games as a possibility for Marty Turco's last start in a Stars uniform. My guess (hope?) is the Ducks game in Dallas on Thursday, but what do I know?
Razor was on with the Musers this morning, and says his gut feeling is that these will indeed be Mike's last 5 games with the team. Andrew's has the audio here.
With a win tonight, the Stars would have 84 points and officially a "better" season than last year. Hurray?
We have not had a line report since Modano returned to practice yesterday. With Jamie Benn still playing center (he centered Lehtinen and Brunnstrom during the brief non-special teams portions of the Sharks game) I would expect for Modano to center some kind of fourth line combination plus special teams time.
As with Wednesday, an Avalanche win with a Stars loss finally and mathematically eliminates them from playoff contention.
Visit The Copper and Blue for their take on that effort against the Red Wings:
"Last" being the key word for this sorry season. As in Dead F*cking Last. It's now official. The Oilers needed one more loss to sew up the first DFL in the franchise's own 37-season history, and they got it in style, roaring back from a 4-0 deficit to tie the score in Detroit of all places, only to lose anyway on a late and controversial goal on Brad Stuart's high stick deflection.
Sum it up, and tonight was an exciting if ultimately futile way to seal the deal and wrap up that prize #1 lottery ticket and a near-guarantee of a top two pick. (I say "near" because there are always trades.) Some guys stunk the joint out, but others fought hard in Penner's absence and made a game of it. At least on the scoreboard. On a night the shot clock read 44-26 and the chance meter 29-9, there can be little argument that the better team won, despite the odour hanging over the last goal. There's a stronger odour that hangs over the 2009-10 Edmonton Oilers. A DFL kind of odour.
Hats off to those guys. Blogging in the face of, as they put it, "dead #$%^ing last" is no fun, but they carry on.
And you can check out the Edmonton Journal Oilers page, who for some reason has a Mark Fistric story up.
Dallas: Wandell (knee) and Barch (laceration/lower body) are out for the year.
Edmonton: Ryan Jones (knee) is questionable, Gagner (hip) is day-to-day.