Anaheim Ducks (18-22-7, 43 pts) @ Dallas Stars (24-21-2, 50 pts)
8:30 PM CT, January 24, 2012
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
At this point, it comes as a relief that the All-Star break is upon the Stars. Dallas comes into this game having lost five in a row and six of the last seven games. The only win was in a shootout over the LA Kings. Injuries, sloppy play and a little bit of bad luck have all contributed but the bottom line is the same, this team is floundering.
The loss of Mike Ribeiro and Jamie Benn have hit this hard. In the past five games without those two guys, Dallas has failed to score more than two goals in any of those games. That includes scoring only one goal against the worst defensive team in the NHL, Tampa Bay.
The latest loss for Dallas was an embarrassing 5-2 beatdown by the Minnesota Wild, one of the worst offensive teams in the league. The Wild scored three goals in 61 seconds in the second period of the game, basically dooming Dallas after they had taken a 2-1 lead. That game was only the second time in the past month and a half that Minnesota scored more than four goals in regulation.
Dallas gets some reprieve tonight (or at least they should) with the probable return of Mike Ribeiro. A playmaker has been sorely missed recently, especially for Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder, so his return is a welcome one. Dallas is currently sitting four points out of the last playoff spot going into tonight so getting points tonight is a must.
However, as is customary with this team, as one guy returns another one leaves. This time it's Brenden Morrow that's out with an injury. It's the second time this season that Morrow has been placed on IR; this time it's for a neck injury.
To make up for Morrow's loss, the team called up Matt Fraser from the Texas Stars to make his NHL debut tonight. Fraser is a scorer, something that Dallas really needs. In 40 games with the AHL affiliate this season, Fraser has 21 goals and 14 assists. His 21 goals is by far the most on the team (10 more than anyone else) and he's second on the team in points and fourth in the AHL in goals. Nine of his goals came on the power-play so who knows, he might get some time with that unit to try to give it a boost. He'll probably be relagated to one the fourth line though, so don't expect too much.
Kari should be in net tonight. Dallas will be without Morrow (neck) and Benn (appendectomy).
more after the jump
Anaheim is the exact opposite of Dallas. Shockingly, the Ducks come into this game as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Anaheim has won five in a row and eight of the last nine. The Ducks were far out of playoff contention at the beginning of the month but suddenly find themselves with a chance if they can put together a solid run after the break.
Anaheim is rolling on offense, scoring 4.5 goals a game in the last eight wins (they were actually shutout by Calgary in their one loss) and have not allowed more than two goals in a game in the past seven games.
Jonas Hiller has started six games in a row and has been playing well, including stopping 43 of 45 shots in the Ducks 3-2 win over the Avs. He probably gets the nod tonight considering the backups on this team (though that didn't matter in the last game between these two).
Notes and thoughts:
- The Ducks have a PP goal in four of the last five games (5 of 13, 38%).
- Last time these two teams met up, Saku Koivu ended the night with a hat trick. I would hope Dallas covers him tightly tonight.
- Michael Ryder hasn't scored a goal in nine games and is pointless in his last five.
- Loui Eriksson has three points in his last three games, but just hasn't been as much of a factor without a top-line center feeding him.
- October 21 at Honda Center: Dallas 3 - Anaheim 1
- December 19 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 5 - Anaheim 3
- January 10 at Honda Center: Dallas 2 - Anaheim 5
|Goals per game||3.3||3|
|Shots per game||26.7||30|
|Hits per game||25.3||21|
|PIM per game||10.7||10|
|Power Play||2 of 9 (22%)||3 of 11 (27%)|
|Penalty Kill||8 of 11 (73%)||7 of 9 (78%)|