The Dallas Stars led the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 in Denver Saturday afternoon, but left without even a point when all was said and done- A bitter end to the season's first half, and a four-game losing streak threatens a month of excellent work as they were closing on a wild card spot.
One point back of the Avalanche with two games in hand. Four points back of Calgary Flames with two games in hand. 9th place in the West is attainable- And they can worry about 8th when they get there, but they have to get back in the W-column, and it needs to be tonight against the Sens.
The Ottawa Senators came screaming out of the gate to the tune of 7-3-2 in the season's opening month, but they were allowing well over 30 shots per contest and would come back down to earth, losing 11 of their next 15.
Since then they've lingered in mediocrity, collecting a record not all that dissimilar from Dallas' at 17-16-8 (Though they've allowed just 113 goals on the season to the 135 you've watched the Stars surrender).
They allowed opponents the fifth most shots in the league at 32.7 They score a below average number of goals at 2.61, allow 2.66, and score less, on average, than their opponents do at even-strength. Their power plays ranks 20th.
Perhaps the only above-average statistic they've managed to cultivate is a top-ten penalty kill at 82.8%- Bad news, perhaps, for a Stars team struggling so mightily on the man advantage.
The good news? They've been shorthanded 87 times on the road already this season, behind just Winnipeg (88) and the Devils (94), so perhaps there will be opportunity to test that PK unit.
Via NHL.com, Senators coach Dave Cameron told media that Robin Lehner (6-6-2, 3.03 GAA, .904 SV%) will start against Dallas. Four of his six wins have come on the road this season, and he out-dueled Pekka Rinne at home, stopping 33 of 35 in November.
Their lineup, or something like it:
They're led on offense by a defenseman in Erik Karlsson and his 29 points in 41 appearances. Noted Star-killer Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris each have 28 points. Left wing Mike Hoffman leads the team in goals with 14.
Former Dallas Star Alex Chiasson has seven goals and eight assists in 38 games with a -9 rating.
As for the Stars, bad news on the ice Saturday has only yielded more.
Vern Fiddler left the club's game against the Colorad Avalanche with a lower body injury and didn't return- He's now a question mark to play against Ottawa.
Then there's the real pickle, as perpetual linemates and apparent bff's Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are also big threats to miss this one. The captain has been nursing a lower body injury after taking that puck off his heel against Minnesota, and Tyler Seguin is dealing with illness, as was Erik Cole Saturday.
On one hand, with a must-win game against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and the red-hot 22-11-8 Washington Capitals in what one can only help is a sold-out building on Saturday, if you could pick one of these games in which to be shorthanded, it would have to be this one.
"All three of them are questionable," Ruff told media yesterday. "Tyler, I think, is our best chance for playing. The other two are questionable."
Keep your eyes on Twitter and on the site here for any re-calling of some extra bodies from the AHL, at it appears they could need one.
From Stars PR:
"Tuesday's tilt against Ottawa marks the first time that Stars center Jason Spezza has played against his former NHL club. The forward departed the Senators ranking second in franchise history in goals (251), assists (436) and points (687) along with sixth (686) in games played. Additionally, Spezza helped lead the franchise to eight postseason appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, registering 52 points (17-35=52) in 56 career postseason contests and reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2007. Originally selected No. 2 overall by Ottawa in the 2001 NHL Draft, Spezza was acquired via trade from the Senators on July 1."