Dallas Stars (23-16-1, 47 pts) @ Anaheim Ducks (12-22-6, 30 pts)
9:00 PM CT, January 10, 2012
Honda Center, Anaheim, California
Oh Pacific Division, how I've missed thee (not really). It's been awhile since the last division game for the Stars (a home game on Dec. 19 against the Ducks was the last one) so Stars fans have been blessed with not having to deal with the late starts for month. Sleep schedules get messed with tonight as the Stars head to Anaheim for a start of a short two game West Coast road-trip.
While Dallas has been playing good hockey recently, they've also have been riding the injury merry-go-round. When Kari Lehtonen made his return, Sheldon Souray and Stephane Robidas got injured. Robidas made his return in the Stars last game and Souray should be back in the lineup tonight. While those two are back, Mike Ribeiro finds himself on the shelf with a knee injury.
Ribeiro had a knee-on-knee collision in the second period of the game against the Oilers and left for a bit. He actually returned in the third period and scored two goals to boot. This only seems to be a precaution though so Ribeiro should be back on the ice soon enough. He's proved his toughness in the last two games anyway so this should not hold him down long. It's a shame as he was playing his best hockey of the season.
Dallas comes into this game off a 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers, their second straight game with a 4-1 win. Dallas has won three of their last four games, only losing in a weird game against the Wings.
Kari Lehtonen should be getting the start tonight. He sat out of the last game as he was suffering from the flu, which seems to be making its rounds around the locker room. Mark Fistric is also dealing with the flu and is a 50/50 to play tonight. Aside from Ribeiro, Philip Larsen (concussion symptoms) and Tomas Vincour (knee) are also out for this game.
With the loss of Ribeiro, I would assume that Tom Wandell gets bumped up to the second line with Eriksson and Morrow. When Ribeiro was in-and-out of the lineup to get repairs during the last two games, it was Wandell that took his spot in the lineup.
The Ducks are the worst team in the division (and one of the league) but that doesn't mean much in division games. Heck, Dallas lost to the Blue Jackets a couple of weeks ago and they are for sure the worse team in the league.
Anaheim has had a sort of offensive enlightment lately. They have 11 goals in their last two games, including a 7-4 win against the aforementioned Blue Jackets. Corey Perry might have found his scoring touch again as he had a hat trick in that game and at least a point in his last three games. The diver extraordinaire has been a career pest against the Stars so the return of Souray and Robidas to the lineup are much welcomed.
The goalie situation is an interesting one for the Ducks. Jonas Hiller suffered a lower body injury in their last game and is questionable for tonight's game. Hiller was replaced by Iiro Tarkki, whoo made his NHL debut and stopped 7 of the 10 shots he faced. Dan Ellis is dealing with a groin injury of his own, so it looks like Tarkki is getting the first start of his career tonight.
The 26-year-old Finnish goalie was recalled to the team on Jan. 8 and was unexpectedly thrust into his debut when Hiller got hurt. He came into the game with a 4-1 lead but allowed three goals and got the win only because of the Ducks offense. The Stars can definitely take advantage tonight so they have to just get pucks towards the net. They have to overwhelm the inexperienced goalie.
Aside from the Hiller and Ellis, the Ducks will also be without RW George Perros (groin), D Matt Smaby (thumb) and RW Devante Smith-Pelly (foot). Winger J.F Jacques was suspended three games for a headshot he had against R.J Umberger of the Blue Jackets.
Notes and thoughts:
- Dallas is 10-9-0 on the road this year. Anaheim is 9-12-1 at home.
- Dallas has been excellent on the PK lately, a perfect 10 of 10 in the last 5 games. Their PP has struggled though (not a surprise). They've gone 2 of 24 in the last 8 games.
- Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson have been on a tear lately. Loui has three straight multi-point games and a point in four straight. Benn has four straight multi-point games and is the reigning NHL player of the week.
- The Ducks are 17 of 19 on the PK in their last 7 games.
- Until the last game against the Blue Jackets, (they had 2 PP goals) the Ducks had been 0 of 19 on the PP in 6 games.
- Tonight is the last game of a long six game home-stand for the Ducks. They are 2-3-0 so far, which might as well be a rousing success for them.
- October 21 at Honda Center: Dallas 3 - Anaheim 1
- December 19 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 5 - Anaheim 3
Dallas Anaheim Goals per game 4 2 Shots per game 26 32 Hits per game 24.5 21 PIM per game 13 12 Power Play 2 of 6 (33%) 3 of 8 (38%) Penalty Kill 5 of 8 (62%) 4 of 6 (66%)
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