Game 53 Preview: Dallas Stars @ Columbus Blue Jackets

Dallas Stars (27-23-2, 56 points) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (15-32-6, 36 pts)

6:00 PM CT, February 9, 2012

Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

If there’s any team that Dallas would want to face coming off an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, it would have to be the Columbus Blue Jackets. Playing the worst team in the NHL is never bad thing, especially when each and every point matters. The only problem is that Dallas has struggled against the Blue Jackets this season.

Don’t let the Stars 2-1-0 record against the Columbus fool you, each game has been a grind. Twice, Dallas was tied or behind heading into the third period and the third time they were clinging to a 1-0 lead. The last matchup was horrendous for Dallas as they lost 4-1 on home ice.

Dallas needs to play with a purpose today. This is the first game of yet another back-to-back (tomorrow against the Buffalo Sabres) and they need to be able to come out today and show that they are the better team. Drag out this game and that will only mean that a tired team will travel to Buffalo and play an early game (never good news). If Dallas drops three of four points on this road trip, their playoff chances are as good as dead. The name of the game is energy tonight.

Adam Pardy should be recalled from the Texas Stars before this game. He might make his way back into the lineup, though hopefully not at the expense of Philip Larsen. Pardy was actually an assist machine in his short “conditioning” stint in the AHL so who knows, he might not completely suck anymore (doubt it).

Only Brenden Morrow is out due to his lingering neck problems. 

I expect Lehtonen to get the start tonight and Bachman to go tomorrow.


more after the jump

Blue Jackets:

The Blue Jackets are coming into tonight on a two-game winning streak after taking care of the Wild 3-1. They’ve been riding Curtis Sanford for the past week and he’s provided only the second time this season that the Blue Jackets have won two games in a row (heck, he did it the first time this season as well).

If Sanford gets the nod against the Stars tonight, it will be the first time that he faces them this season. The Stars faced Steve Mason in all three previous matchups this season. Sanford is 4-1-1 against the Stars in his career, but hasn’t faced them since 2007 so there’s not much to go on right now on how he’ll do this time.

The Jackets got a big boost this past week Jeff Carter made his way back from a shoulder injury. He’s scored in both of his games since returning. He played in two of the three against the Stars this season and was held scoreless in both despite nine shots on goal.

There are a bunch of injuries to cover here. Four defensemen are out for this game: James Wisniewski (broken ankle), Nikita Nikitin (knee), Brett Lebda (fractured thumb) and Radek Martinek (concussion). Also out are forwards Mark Letestu (broken hand) and Kristian Huselius (groin).

Notes and thoughts:

  • Columbus is 9-13-3 at home. Dallas is 12-13-0 on the road.
  • The Blue Jackets have a -52 goal differential on the season, by far the worst in the league. The second worst belongs to the Carolina Hurricanes at -29.
  • Rick Nash has 2 goals and an assist in the season series. Vinny Prospal has been held to just 1 goal.
  • Jamie Benn has a goal and 2 assists in the series while Michael Ryder has 2 goals and an assist. Mike Ribeiro has 3 assists, all in the first game between these two.
  • The Jackets have allowed a power-play goal in seven of the last eight games.

Previous games:

  • October 15 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 4 – Columbus 2
  • October 18 at Nationwide Arena: Dallas 3 – Columbus 2
  • December 29 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 1 – Columbus 4

Series Stats:

Dallas Columbus
Goals per game 2.67 2.67
Shots per game 29.33 28
Hits per game 21.67 27
PIM per game 10.33 9
Power Play 1 of 9 (11%) 2 of 12 (17%)
Penalty Kill 10 of 12 (83%) 8 of 9 (89%)