Anaheim Ducks (7-1-1, 15 pts) @ Dallas Stars (5-5-1, 11 pts)
7:30 PM CT
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Goals – 4th, Goals Against – 10th, Power Play – 5th, Penalty Kill – 26th
Anaheim was expected to enter this season on a downturn. They finished 13th in the West last season and had pretty much the exact same roster this year (with a few additions on defense). Three weeks into the season and Anaheim suddenly looks like one of the best teams in the league.
The Ducks are getting it done with pretty much their entire roster. Nine players have at least five points (led by Saku Koivu’s 11) and seven players have at least three goals on the season (surprisingly led by Daniel Winnik’s five).
Sheldon Souray leads the defensemen on the team with seven points and has lived up to his hefty contract so far for the Ducks.
The only weak spot on this team has been Jonas Hiller, but even that problem seems to have been readily fixed. 30-year-old rookie Viktor Fasth has played out of mind so far this season. He’s started four games (all wins) and has only allowed four goals. He leads the entire league in both GAA and SV% and seems to have taken over the starting goalie spot.
The Ducks are 26th on the penalty kill, but that’s a bit misleading now. Every single one of their goals allowed on the PK were with Hiller in net. When Fasth is in there, the Ducks have been a perfect 11-11. Anaheim has also been shorthanded only 33 times this season. That’s tied for second least in the entire league so don’t expect Dallas to get many chances tonight.
Anaheim only has one real injury issue to deal with. Cam Fowler has an upper body problem and is on injured reserve. The Ducks recently traded for Ben Lovejoy from Pittsburgh to get an extra body on the blueline.
I would expect Fasth to get the start tonight, but I’m hoping Dallas sees Hiller instead.
Possible line combos:
Ryan – Getzlaf – Perry
Beleskey – Koivu – Selanne
Palmieri – Cogliano – Winnik
Etem – Bonino – Smith-Pelley
Beauchemin – Souray
Sbisa – Allen
Lovejoy – Lydman
Goals – 29th, Goals Against – 11th, Power Play – 24th, Penalty Kill – 9th
It goes without saying that tonight is going to be a huge for the Stars and their young defense. The Ducks forwards will give them even more trouble than the Oilers did on Wednesday and that just means Kari Lehtonen is going to be as busy as ever.
The good thing is that Dallas is entering tonight have won three of their last four games (two on the road) and Jamie Benn has returned to his usual dominant form.
Benn has five points in his last two games (three goals, two assists) and has been an absolute force for the Stars. He’s hounding opponents in the offensive zone and causing turnovers and setting up his teammates with golden scoring chances. The Stars need that Benn again tonight.
The big thing for Dallas tonight will be to play smart disciplined hockey. Going a man down against the Ducks will only spell trouble and you know Souray wants to do some damage on the power play.
I would expect Goligoski back in the lineup tonight after sitting a game to clear his mind. The likely guy to sit would be Philip Larsen, but I’m hoping that it’s Robidas.
Lehtonen will get the start as usual. The only injury worth noting is Ray Whitney and his broken foot.
Morrow – Benn – Jagr
Eriksson – Roy – Ryder
Vincour – Eakin – Nystrom
Roussel – Fiddler – Smith/Garbutt
Dillon – Robidas
Larsen – Daley
Goligoski – Oleksiak