Tonight’s matchup against the Anaheim Ducks takes on a greater significance after the Stars lackluster performance Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators. Always important are divisional games, this game will make a statement about this team that has dropped two in a row against sub-standard teams. It will also set the table for a rematch against (what was) the hottest team in the league: Chicago Blackhawks this Saturday.
The Stars own the Ducks in Dallas, going 6-0-1 in their previous 7 within the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center. Most recently, the Stars played a complete game against Anaheim on February 8th and went on to defeat their divisional rivals, 3-1.
Despite Chicago’s torrid start, the Ducks are the surprise of the league, sprinting out to a 19-3-3 record and have been nipping at the heels of the Blackhawks all season. Their success can be attributed in large part to their captain, Ryan Getzlaf, who leads their team in every offensive statistic. Within the last week, Anaheim rewarded their captain with an 8-year contract extension which for all intents and purposes locks him up for his career.
The contract move also magnifies the writing on the wall that the Ducks are willing to part with one of their two other big forwards: Corey Perry or Bobby Ryan. Tonight, Anaheim will get a taste of life without 2010-2011 Hart Trophy winner, Perry as he begins his 4-game suspension for a major interference penalty in Minnesota Tuesday night in which Perry hit the Wild’s Jason Zucker in the head and sent him crashing hard into the boards. Perry was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct.
The Ducks will also be missing Viktor Fasth, who came in for Jonas Hiller after the first period during their first meeting back in early-February. Nick Bonino and Brad Staubitz will also be unavailable for the Ducks as they look to push their winning streak to 5-games.
The Stars will be looking to rebound as they will potentially be without Jamie Benn for a second game in a row with a wrist injury. He and Brenden Morrow, who has missed three games with a groin injury, skated yesterday after team practice. Morrow is officially listed as questionable while Benn is doubtful.
What to Look For:
Anaheim leads the league in power play at 26.7% but has struggled as of late, scoring only 3 power play goals in their last 7 contests.
In their previous six games, Dallas has only allowed 3 power play goals.
Special teams are going to decide this game. Question that remains to be answered is which team will see their trends continue? If trends continue, look for Dallas to be victorious.