So where were we again? Ah, yes.
When last we saw our heroes Saturday night they were finishing an exhausting stretch of schedule with a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild. They had finished a stretch of five games to start 2016 with four losses, their once dynamic offense being held to two or less in four of the five contests.
And so the Stars have their work cut out for them having earned three points in 2016 so far to the Blackhawks' 14.
If Dallas is going to have a shot at making a fight of it before the champs blow by them it starts this weekend where, for some reason, they have to play on consecutive nights after a five day break.
"Three days, four days that's a good break," Lindy Ruff told media Thursday. "Sometimes you go beyond that and there tends to be a little rust. We've got to be up and running and we've got to be ready to play."
Even before they had a busy schedule the Stars had a bad road record. Going back all the way to December 1st Ruff's bunch has dropped eight of their last ten away from the AAC, and have lost their last five straight. Their last road win? Nearly a month ago on December 21st (Minnesota).
In those five straight losses they've given up 23 goals, including six goals on three separate ocassions.
In their quest to turn around this most disturbing of trends they'll combat the Anaheim Ducks this evening with these lines used at practice in Southern California Thursday... Or they'll do what Lindy wants tonight-
So Ales Hemsky looks ready to draw back in, but the Stars really need their big guns to get going after a slow start to the new year that's seen Patrick Kane just run away with the scoring race. As Benn and Seguin go, so do the Stars- So starting with two on the road where the lines will be matches is tough.
Mike Heika reports that Kari Lehtonen came off the ice early Thursday and looks likely to be the starter, setting Antti Niemi to take on his former mates in San Jose on Saturday night.
The Ducks, some might tell you, have not been good this season- But that should not be anyone's attitude entering tonight.
Anaheim has earned points in eight of their last ten games, and they're coming into this one off a big 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators that put them over .500 for the first time this season, and in the Pacific they were never dead.
And like we've seen so often in recent weeks- They've got the measuring stick game in their barn and they're going to put their absolute best foot forward against their old division mates they dispatched in six games in 2014.
They've not allowed a power play goal in eight games going back to December 27th, and they've been stingy on the whole giving up just 13 total goals in their last nine games. What's more is that they've been good against the Central, taking down St. Louis and Winnipeg on this elongated homestand.
Their lineup, or something like it-
From Stars PR:
The Dallas Stars begin a three-game Pacific Division road swing with a matchup against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. The Stars and Ducks meet for the second of three games this season, with Dallas defeating Anaheim, 4-3, in the first game of the season on Oct. 27 at American Airlines Center. The Stars rallied from a three-goal deficit behind a three-point night from captain Jamie Benn (0-3=3) with forward Antoine Roussel notching the game-winning goal (1-0=1) to complete the comeback with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. Dallas has won five of the last eight games (5-3-0) played against Anaheim at Honda Center, including a 4-0 victory on April 8, 2015 in the only game in Anaheim during the 2014-15 campaign.
SHARP DRESSED MAN
Stars forward Patrick Sharp registered an assist (0-1=1) last Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild and now has points in a career-best 12 consecutive games (6-9=15). Sharp's current streak is the longest active point streak in the NHL and the second-longest by any player in the NHL during the 2015-16 season. He currently shares fifth in the NHL with five game-winning goals this season, only three goals away from tying his career-best of eight game-winning tallies set during the 2011-12 campaign with the Blackhawks. The native of Thunder Bay, Ont. has a two-game point streak (1-4=5) and eight points (3-5=8) over his last four games at Honda Center. In 31 games against Anaheim, he has recorded 30 points (15-15=30).