Dallas Stars (23-17-1, 47 pts) @ LA Kings (21-15-7, 47 pts)
9:30 PM CT, January 12, 2012
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California
The second half of the season starts with a big game big game big game. That's pretty much all you can say about this one. As of today, the Stars sit two points behind the Kings, who just happen to hold the eighth seed in the playoffs. After what happened on Tuesday against the Ducks, this feels like a must win game.
Dallas needs to come out determined and ready to play tonight. Any effort like what they showed against the Ducks and this thing will be over very soon. LA may not be a great, or even good, offensive team but they can certainly take advantage of bad play. The loss of Ribeiro has really hurt this team as more and more of the offensive burden is in Jamie Benn's hands.
Tom Wandell is a nice player but he's not a second-line guy and can't really fill the skates alongside Morrow and Eriksson. Those two guys need a playmaking center with them and unfortunately Wandell is not that. With the third line of Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak struggling for the first time this season, everything suddenly depends on Benn.
Kari Lehtonen gets the nod in goal. Dallas will be without Mike Ribeiro (slight MCL tear), Tomas Vincour (knee) and Philip Larsen (concussion).
Blog to follow: The Royal Half
Aside from the hilarious Dustin Penner pancake incident and his equally hilarious open letter, the Kings have (much like the Stars recently) been riding the win/loss roller coaster. Since December 29, LA has been alternating between the two. If that trend continues, they should lose tonight's game as they beat the Capitals 5-2 on Monday. In the last 10 games, they are 6-1-3.
Everyone pretty much knows what to expect from LA now: Great defense, piss-poor offense and the mandatory dive sessions from Dustin Brown.
Jonathan Quick should be getting the start tonight after sitting in their last game. He's been a thorn in the side of the Stars for a long while now (6-0-1 with a 1.71 GAA in his last 7 against Dallas) so expect another tight, low scoring game.
The Kings will be without Simon Gagne (concussion) and Scott Parse (hip).
Notes and thoughts:
- Dallas is 10-10-0 on the road this year. LA is 13-10-2 at home.
- The Stars PK has been a perfect 13 of 13 in the last 6 games. The Kings have been even better, 36 of 36 in their last 11 games and have only allowed 3 PP goals since December 1.
- With those two numbers in mind, expect dead power-plays tonight. The Stars and Kings have both been pitiful with the man-advantage. Dallas is 4 of 36 in their last 11 games while the Kings have only 4 PP goals (4 of 64) since December 6, a span of 17 games.
- Tonight is the end of a six-game homestand for the Kings. They are 3-1-1 so far.
- October 22 at STAPLES Center: Dallas 0 - Los Angeles 1
- October 27 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 3 - Los Angeles 5
- November 23 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 3 - Los Angeles 2 (OT)
- December 10 at STAPLES Center: Dallas 2 - Los Angeles 1
|Goals per game||2||2.25|
|Shots per game||31.75||26|
|Hits per game||30||28.25|
|PIM per game||11.5||13|
|Power Play||2 of 17 (12%)||1 of 13 (8%)|
|Penalty Kill||12 of 13 (92%)||15 of 17 (88%)|