Everything looked safe halfway through the game in Calgary Wednesday night. The Dallas Stars were up 2-0 and we were wondering how a team that panics and ices the puck as many times as the Flames could be in such solid playoff position while our favorites are not.
It was a little bit of a trap at that point. The Flames got their motor running, their young guns started leading and some depth scoring put them right back in position to win it.
Speaking of traps, the Stars are in Edmonton tonight to take on the lowly Oilers.
Luckily the Stars survived with a shootout win, like they survived three different Buffalo Sabre leads the game before - also rather trap-like. Dallas has survived just about everything lately, winning four straight, seven of their last eight, and ten of their last twelve.
They've taken care of everything in their control in the month of March.
Some things are not in their purview. Things like the Winnipeg Jets. Winners of six of their last seven. Winners last night against the highest point-earners in the land in the Montreal Canadiens despite getting grossly out-shot.
Winnipeg continues their hold on that last spot despite having had to face Montreal, Washington, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Vancouver lately. Their schedule down the stretch is similarly challenging. Can they keep it up?
The Dallas Stars can only keep their eyes on their own paper and let the metaphorical chips fall where they may.
As for Edmonton tonight - they score goals. Lots of them. 4, 2, 4, 4, 4, 3, 5, 1, and 4 in their last nine games (3.44 per). Luckily they also allow them by the truck-full- 4.11 GA/G in the same stretch.
They're also putting an absolute ton of rubber on opposing netminders right now - averaging 35 shots over their last ten games, including three-straight 34-shot performances entering this one, and two 47 shot outings (against Columbus and...Chicago?).
So there's danger here. The Oilers have nothing to lose and they want to get get up and down the ice. The Stars thrive in that environment but can get tripped-up in transition if things get a little too unstructured.
It occurs to the writer's mind at this point to raise the possibility that Trevor Daley could be an option for Lindy Ruff this evening after a lengthy absence thanks to the dreaded lower body (knee) injury.
The Oilers lineup, which brings all if its customary questions. Mainly - why is such an outrageously talented group of players combining for one of the league's habitually poorest point totals?
Yes that's former Dallas Star Derek Roy, exiled from the somehow playoff-bound Nashville Predators. And yes, that's former Dallas Star Richard Bachman. He's appeared in four games this season and has an 0-2-0 record. It's unlikely he'll play.
And yes, inquisitive reader, that is former Dallas Star and Texas Stars favorite Luke Gazdic, who has appeared in 32 Edmonton games this season, scoring twice and earning 43 penalty minutes in limited action.
Edmonton could be without goaltender Viktor Fasth, D Andrew Ference and C Boyd Gordon. D Mark Fayne, who I have listed above, could also be out with a shoulder problem.
The Stars will no doubt feature Kari Lehtonen in net, and likely keep their forward group the same- Possibly keeping Ryan Garbutt on the sideline once again. The only doubt surrounds the status of the aforementioned Trevor Daley, who is now well enough to be considered day-to-day.
From Stars PR:
ALBERTA SAYS HELLO
The Dallas Stars meet the Edmonton Oilers for the third and final game of the 2014-15 campaign on Friday night at Rexall Place in Edmonton. This season, the Stars are 2-0-0 against the Oilers and enter Friday's contest having won six straight games at Rexall Place. The last Stars road loss in Edmonton came on Feb. 15, 2011. Since the team moved to Dallas for the 1993-94 season, the Stars have won 39 games in Edmonton (including playoffs), which is the most wins by any team in the NHL. Dallas erased a three-goal deficit in the second meeting of the season and emerged with a 6-5 shootout victory on Dec. 21 at Rexall Place. Former Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff notched the game-deciding goal in the shootout with four Stars tallying multi-point games including Tyler Seguin (2-1=3), Jamie Benn (1-1=2), Alex Goligoski (0-2=2) and Ales Hemsky (0-2=2).