The Canucks will be looking to sellout their arena for the 415th time in a row (dating back to 2002) when they play the Dallas Stars this evening in British Columbia. Although that number in itself is a grand achievement for the Canucks, the number that matters most is in the wins column and the Stars have them beat there, 74 - 69 - 27 in favor of the Stars since the two teams first met. That strong history for the Stars facing off against the Canucks will hopefully continue tonight as they come off of a poor 7-4 loss to the Flames after being down 3-0. With no losses against the Stars last season, it is expected that Cory Schneider will man the pipes for the Canucks, as will Kari for the Stars. The two goal tenders are closely matched in save percentages, with Kari averaging 27.6 minutes per goal allowed, and Schneider 25.4 minutes. The biggest difference being their ice time, Kari has played 608 minutes this season, with Schneider and Luongo sharing duties fairly evenly, Schneider has only seen 331 minutes on the ice. Whether this hinders or helps the Canucks goalie will be best seen tonight when the Stars bring the pressure to the offensive side of the blue line. Without alternate captain Ray Whitney this Stars team has seemed to struggle, and his absence tonight with a broken foot surely will not help the Stars, particularly with the season debut of Ryan Kessler for the Canucks. As offensive lines for the Stars begin to mesh, and the Jagr-Benn-Morrow line has produced the Stars top three point scorers for the team, the game needs to improve behind the forwards.
The defense of the Stars has been questioned recently, particularly after letting 7 goals on to the scoreboard in their last game. Tonights match up has bookmakers setting the over/under at 5.5, which suggests they have more faith in Kari and Cory to make tonights game a more mild scoring affair. Tonight the Stars will have to show their backbone, with Glenn Gulutzen calling the team "soft" in a post-game interview in Calgary, the Stars head to Vancouver with a point to prove, to themselves, to the fans, and to their coach. Getting the upperhand on their final game in Canada before spending some time back in the metroplex will gravitate them to an 8-6-1 record, however a loss leaves them at 7-7-1 and in the midst of mediocrity, where this team certainly does not belong.