Originally written on Stars of Big D  |  Last updated 2/15/13
Dallas Stars (7-6-1, 15 pts) @ Vancouver Canucks (8-2-2, 18 pts) 9:00 PM CT Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada The Canucks – 3rd in the West Rankings: Goals – 11th, Goals Against – 3rd, Power Play – 19th, Penalty Kill – 22th Vancouver enters tonight as one of the hottest teams in the league. They’ve won six in a row and have been getting it done on all fronts. Their defense has allowed one goal or fewer in five of those six games (two goals allowed in the other game) while their offense has scored three or more goals in four of those six games (two goals in the other two). It’s tough to find a portion of this team that isn’t doing well right now. Daniel Sedin leads the team in points (10) while Zack Kassian leads the team in goals (five). The hot player on the team at the moment is Mason Raymond. Raymond is on a four game point streak and is third on the team in points. The defense for the team has been spectacular this year (aside from the first game in which they allowed seven goals to Anaheim). Supposed starter Cory Schneider has been very good this season but Roberto Luongo has been one of the best goalies in the NHL so far. Luongo is 4-0-2 with a 1.45 GAA and .943 save percentage this year and has won four games in a row.  Luckily(?) for Dallas, it looks like Schneider is getting the nod tonight. Schneider has won his last two starts and allowed a total of two goals on 57 shots. As if all that wasn’t tough enough for the Stars, the Canucks get second line center Ryan Kesler back from shoulder surgery tonight. Roll all that up into a ball and the Stars have a very difficult road game tonight. Vancouver has been a very healthy team so far this year. Only two players have missed significant time: Kesler and winger David Booth. Kesler returns to play his first game of the season tonight but the Canucks will be without Booth (groin) and Manny Malhotra. Malhotra will most likely have to retire due to his eye issues. The Canucks have owned the Stars recently. They’ve won 11 of the past 14 games against Dallas and Schneider has won four straight against the Stars. Possible line combos: D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Burrows Kassian – Kesler – Higgins Raymond – Schroeder – Hansen Volpatti – Lapierre – Weise D-Pairings: Edler – Bieksa Hamhuis – Garrison Tanev – Ballard Dallas – 8th in the West Rankings: Goals – 23rd, Goals Against – 13th, Power Play – 14th, Penalty Kill – 13th The good times for Dallas came to a screeching halt on Wednesday as they were crushed 7-4 by the Calgary Flames. Damn near everything went wrong in that game as the Stars showed zero willingness to play defense and poor Richard Bachman was hung out to dry. For Dallas, the big thing tonight will be commitment. They have to commit to playing defense, commit to hard work in the defensive zone and commit to playing smart hockey. The team can’t stand around and watch the puck tonight or the Canucks might score 10 goals even with Kari Lehtonen in net. Offensively for Dallas, the first line has been red-hot. Benn has a point in five straight games while both Jagr and Morrow have points in four of the last five games. Eric Nystrom (two goals in two games) and the fourth line have been playing good hockey and the team can expect the usual solid effort from Cody Eakin and his line. The problem will be the defense. Jamie Oleksiak is back down in the AHL after a short stint with the team so that means Philip Larsen is back in the lineup tonight. The usual suspects of Alex Goligoski, Stephane Robidas and former Canuck Aaron Rome have to play better tonight and keep the net clear for Lehtonen. Kari gets the start and will be called upon again to save this team’s bacon. The only injury for Dallas is Ray Whitney and his broken foot. Probable lines: Morrow – Benn – Jagr Eriksson – Roy – Ryder Vincour – Eakin – Smith Nystrom – Fiddler – Roussel/Garbutt D-Pairs: Dillon – Robidas Rome – Daley Goligoski – Larsen
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