Another heavy weight matchup awaits the Dallas Stars today as they continue their last road trip of the regular season in Anaheim tonight. The Stars could clinch first in the West and Central division if they win against the Ducks and the Colorado Avalanche do Dallas a solid by beating the St Louis Blues in regulation. The Avalanche need to win tonight to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, so they'll be a very motivated team taking on the Blues.
But Dallas will focus not on the Blues schedule but rather taking care of their own business, as they face the Anaheim Ducks.
The Anaheim Ducks haven't had much of a challenge by way of schedule in the past two weeks. They've faced a slew of Canadian teams -- all of who are hoping to fall far enough at a shot of drafting Auston Matthews this summer -- and went 4-2-1 against them. Within that stretch, the Ducks haven't put together a complete game in a while and feel that they are not playing as tight defensively as they should be.
To add to their recent play, the Ducks find themselves with some key injuries. Center Rickard Rackell's injury has forced the Ducks to play Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on the same line, depleting some of their forward depth. Goaltender Frederik Andersen remains out with a concussion, as well as defensemen Simon Despres and Kevin Bieksa with upper body injuries. We will see a familiar face return tonight when the Ducks get back defensemen Hampus Lindholm.
We would expect the Stars to roll with the same lineup as last night, with the Stars on a good streak of late. Mattias Janmark left the game with an injury, so it's likely the forward lines will be tweaked a bit to accommodate his absence. Defensive pairings are likely to remain as is, and with Kari Lehtonen getting the start last night versus the Los Angeles Kings, we wouldn't be surprised to see Antti Niemi in net tonight. With no morning skate today after the game yesterday, we'll know what's what closer to puck drop.
The game starts at 8 PM CST, and will be the last regular season late start for the Stars this season. Stay up and watch it with us, won't you?