Thursday, February 16th, 2012, 7:30 PM CST
American Airlines Center
Opponent Blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline
The Dallas Stars ran into something of a buzz-saw Tuesday night in the form of the Detroit Red Wings. Chasing a league record 21st victory in a row on home ice, the talented Wings out-shot the Stars 20-10 in the first period, out-chanced them 13-0, and out-scored them 2-0 en route to an eventual 3-1 victory.
They'll hope to get back on track at American Airlines Center tonight but their home barn has been anything but friendly this year. The Stars have scored just nine goals in their last seven home games. Five times in that span they've been held to a single goal. That goal horn and new goal song are getting just absolutely no play right now. They've got to find a way to remedy that if they're to catch up in the playoff race.
The Stars were swept last year by the Flames, going just 0-2-2. The OTL's were both shootout losses and both came at American Airlines Center. One of the losses was a 7-4 spanking in Alberta. Dallas is looking to win their first home regulation game against the Flames since Feb. 3, 2009.
Calgary enters with a 3-0-2 record in their last five games, including a win over Vancouver. They sit at 62 points, three ahead of Dallas and could possibly take sole possession of eighth place with a win tonight, putting the Stars five back (pending the outcome of the Phoenix game).
Dallas has just seven games remaining before the trade deadline to prove to their GM and new owner that they're a serious threat to make the NHL's post season. The urgency must be there tonight from the drop of the puck in the first. Watch it on Fox Sports Southwest and talk about it with us here tonight in our gameday thread.
Much more on each team after the jump...
Dallas has allowed five power play goals in their opponents last twelve attempts (7/12 = 58.3% kill) and they know they have to do better than that, particularly in light of the fact that the power play still isn't scoring (just one of it's last sixteen (6.2%)).
"We needed a kill there and we didn't get it," Glen Gulutzan said very simply after the team's 3-1 loss to the Red Wings Tuesday night.
Brenden Morrow continues to miss time with a neck/back issue and no return date has been set. Tomas Vincour continues to fill in the top six in the mean time, and the line is expected to look the same as it has for the last several games, though little success has been seen.
To their credit the Ott-Benn-Vincour line did record a positive scoring chance balance in the Detroit game, while others (mainly the Ribeiro and Fiddler lines) were man-handled by Detroit.
Sheldon Souray continues to miss time with an injured foot after taking a shot. Glen Gulutzan speculated that Souray could have micro fractures in his foot after the ordeal, like Robidas has from earlier injuries this year. His status as of late Wednesday night is unknown but it's doubtful he'll play at this point, leaving Larsen in with Fistric presumably.
Kari Lehtonen has been on fire lately, even if the wins haven't been there, and he'll get the start, of course, tonight against these Flames who boast quite a Finnish goaltender of their own.
The Stars have recorded 30 shots or more just once in their last 14 games.
Don't forget that the DBD crew will be at Frankie's in Lewisville on Saturday to watch the game against the Coyotes. A private room has been reserved, so come on out and enjoy some Stars camaraderie as Dallas chases a spot.
Calgary's strengths right now lie in their defense and goaltending. They've given up an immensely impressive 19 goals against in their last 11 games (1.72) on the strength of Kiprusoff's goaltending, and they've killed 26 of their opponents last 28 power plays attempts (.929 kill rate). Like the Blues, Predators, Coyotes and Kings, the Flames are limiting their opponents first, and that greatly increases their odds of climbing the charts with whatever offense they can muster after that.
The Flames have been dealing with injuries to their forward group and in the ensuing adjustments, moved Michael Cammalleri (newly acquired from the Montreal Canadiens) to center in their last game against the Maple Leafs. With no one coming back and the Flames 5-1 victors, we'll expect that experiment to continue in to tonight.
Adding to their injury situation is concern for Olli Jokinen, who missed the team's last couple of practices but did play against Toronto Tuesday.
"He's a little sore and stuff, said Sutter. "I just felt it would be good for him to have that extra day. It's nothing major or anything like that."
The Toronto Star described the Leafs dismantling of the Toronto Maple Leafs thusly: "Against the weak-checking Leafs, however, the Flames created all forms of odd-man chances, slicing through the porous Toronto defensive shell for two goals in the early going to improve to 6-3-3 since GM Jay Feaster pulled the trigger on the trade with Montreal that brought Cammalleri west for his second stint with the Flames." [TheStar.com]
Expected Flames lineup:
Some other guy
Flames defensemen Derek Smith (ankle), David Moss (ankle), Curtis Glencross (MCL) and Lee Stempniak (ankle) are on injured reserve.