It's been quite a week for the Dallas Stars.
Last Saturday night the franchise unveiled the unquestioned new gold-standard for retirement ceremonies (in the league and maybe in all of sports) when #9 was finally raised to its rightful place at the American Airlines Center.
We questioned whether or not there would be an emotional letdown between the ceremony and the game. The Stars were victorious in dramatic fashion.
On Monday night we questioned whether or not there would be an emotional letdown against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Greater powers intervened there, and further historic events were witness by a Stars crowd, though we wish we hadn't.
Tuesday night came and the emotions of the tumultuous week just had to catch up with them at some point, we opined. They responded with an overtime win over what might be the best team in hockey in the St. Louis Blues.
So after all of that...Six days that have played out with six months worth of news for a single team...How will they respond tonight as they finally get back to something resembling business as usual?
It's just the Calgary Flames, after all, right?
Those Flames beat the Anaheim Ducks, another President's Trophy contender, by a score of 7-2 Wednesday night. They've won three of their last five and they have young players fighting for a future in the league. They have nothing to lose. They are in full-on spoiler mode, and no one needs points more than the Dallas Stars do right now.
So there's a lesson to learn there. One that the Ducks learned so that perhaps the Stars don't have to.
Their lineup is one-part head-scratcher and another part familiarity. Backlund and Cammalleri are enough to evoke some memories for Stars fans. So much of the remainder is the hungry young guys who could spoil a chance to put two points in the bank after the Coyotes lost last night.
From the Calgary Herald:
Playing their best outing of a trying 2013-14 campaign, there were many bright spots in Wednesday's 7-2 victory over the visiting Anaheim Ducks . . . C Mikael Backlund was dominant. In 19:58 of icetime, the slick Swede was good on 14 of 23 faceoffs (61 per cent), led the Flames with four shots on net, and had two goals and an assist to finish plus-three. It was the second three-point night of his career. [Calgary Herald]
22 year-old rookie netminder Joni Ortio will likely make his seventh career NHL start tonight for Calgary. He's 3-3-0 with a .907 save percentage and a very respectable 2.20 GAA on the year.
Calgary may be one of the league's worst teams in the standings, but they have a strength we may see tonight - they don't give up many shots. 22, 23, 14, and 26 in their last four. That's stingy. The number is 25.2 over their last 15 games overall. Can the Stars combat that with their speed, or will Calgary slow the game down and control the tempo?
As was reported Thursday Kari Lehtonen is pleasantly close to being cleared for practice, though Tim Thomas will start tonight and will, in all likelihood, be backed up by Cristopher Nilstorp.
Stars rookie Alex Chiasson should be back in the lineup after missing Tuesday night's game for personal reasons in the wake of Rich Peverley's cardiac event on Monday.
"For me, Pevs was someone I sat next to in the locker room, was someone that took care of me on the road and was the first one to text me to see if I wanted to go to dinner," Chiasson explained yesterday. "For the young guys, it's always hard to open up and ask questions and he was the guy I leaned on for that type of thing throughout the year. Emotionally, it was really hard. There's different thoughts that go through your mind. You never want to see anything like that."
Chiasson may be back and Colton Sceviour may be up, but Cody Eakin will probably miss this one with a lower-body injury. So we wait to see if the Stars will call anyone up from Cedar Park, or if they'll roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen for a night.
All in all, it's a tough spot for the Stars as they try to avoid a letdown against a non-competing club. Can they keep their focus yet again?
Find out on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30pm CST.