Dallas Stars @ Anaheim Ducks
9:00 PM - October 21, 2011
Honda Center, Anaheim, California
There's been only six games so far this season for the Dallas Stars, but there may be very few as anticipated as the game that's happening tonight. The red hot Stars (5-1-0) are on the second game of their roadtrip and will find themselves playing the equally streaking Anahiem Ducks (4-1-0) in a batlle for early season Pacific Division supremecy.
The Ducks, like Dallas, have won their last four games with a combination of solid goaltending and good special teams. They've scored a power-play goal in their last two games and have been 16 of 17 on the penalty kill in their last four games.
The Ducks are essentially the same team as they were last year, expect Jonas Hiller is over his head injury/vertigo and playing as well as any goaltender in the league. They still employ the ancient Teemu Selanne who is still an effective scorer, especially against Dallas. Reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry absolutely killed Dallas last year, tallying four goals and four assists in six matchups.
Those two guys are good, but they don't hold a candle to what Lubomir Visnovsky did to Dallas. The defensman had five goals and six assists against the Stars last year and each goal he scored just seemed to be a killer, coming at crucial moments. The 11 points he scored against the Stars, (in just six games) was the most he had against any team in the league. In fact, against the other Pacific Division teams (Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Jose) he only had nine points in 17 games. Who knows why he's so effective, but Dallas just isn't able to stop him. With the revamped team and defense, it will be interesting to see how Dallas puts the clamps on Vishnovsky.
Dallas is on their own four game winning streak, although they have looked very shaky during some of these games. They've been outshot in all but one game this season, and Kari Lehtonen has had to be beyond incredible, stopping close to 38 shots just about every game. With the snipers that the Ducks have on their team, you can expect another game where he'll have to be on top of his game.
The Stars penalty kill has been excellent this season, though they've allowed a power-play goal in each of their last two games. Michael Ryder seems to be finding his stride, scoring a goal in his last two games and getting his first assist of the season. His linemates Ribeiro and Morrow are also on a hot streak with Morrow scoring a point in three straight games and Ribeiro tallying three assists in the Saturday game against the Blue Jackets.
Sheldon Souray continues to dominate from the blue line. He has five points this season, tied for the team lead, and has been a physical presence in front of Lehtonen.
If Dallas continues to play like they have for most of the season, grabbing a lead and barely hanging on despite getting completely outplayed, they will have a lot of trouble getting by the Ducks. They need to come out aggressive tonight and make Jonas Hiller win this game for Anaheim.