Anaheim Ducks (19-3-3, 41 pts) @ Dallas Stars (12-11-2, 26 pts)
7:30 PM CT
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
The Ducks – 2nd in the West
Goals – 3rd, Goals Against – 7th, Power Play – 1st, Penalty Kill – 27th
Lost in all the hoopla over the Blackhawks points streak has been the steady (and stellar) play of the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have just one fewer loss than Chicago and have a game in hand.
They’ve scored more goals, have a better home record and their four-game winning streak is the longest in the Western Conference. Very few people are talking about the Ducks, but they just might be the best team in the NHL.
Anaheim has actually been riding Jonas Hiller during this winning streak. He’s won three of the four games and has given up just three goals. It looks like he’s fixed his early season struggles and makes the Hiller/Fasth tandem one of the best in the NHL right now.
Fasth suffered some kind of upper-body injury during the last game who knows what his status could be for tonight.
Offensively for the Ducks, everything runs through the newly re-signed Ryan Getzlaf. He leads the team in goals (10), assists (21) and points. He’s had multi-point efforts in four of the last five games and just had a four-game point streak broken. Dallas held him pointless in the first meeting this season and will need to do it again.
Bobby Ryan has also been playing well lately. He’s registered a point in eight of the last nine games. Corey Perry has registered at least a point in 11 of the last 13 games, but is suspended for the next four games so Dallas lucks out here.
Noted Stars killer Teemu Selanne is just about the only main guy in a slump. He’s had only one point in the last six games and only two goals in the past month. With Perry out of the lineup, a little extra attention should go Selanne’s way so he doesn’t get going again.
With Fasth’s status up in the air, I would say Hiller gets the start again tonight.
Anaheim is also without Perry, Nick Bonino (flu) and Brad Staubitz (skate blade to the face). Kyle Palmieri has been out with an upper-body injury but should be back tonight.
Possible line combos:
Ryan – Getzlaf – Selanne
Beleskey – Koivu – Palmieri
Winnik – Cogliano – Maroon
McMillan – Holland – Etem
Fowler – Beauchemin
Lydman – Souray
Sbisa – Allen
Dallas – 11th in the West
Goals – 16th, Goals Against – 18th, Power Play – 12th, Penalty Kill – 11th
The up-and-down Stars are in a downswing right now. Two solid games against the Blues and Kings have been followed by two hideous games against the Coyotes and Predators.
The Tuesday game against Nashville was especially bad as they were shutout and gave up four goals to the worst offensive team in the league. Up against one of the top scoring teams in the league tonight, I’m not feeling too great about this one.
The offense has dried up for Dallas in the last two games. Jamie Benn and Brenden Morrow have been injured and both are most likely out for tonight again. The only guy doing anything these days has been Jaromir Jagr.
Loui Eriksson really needs to get going tonight. He’s only had one goal in the last five games and hasn’t been dishing out assists either (two).
New guy Eric Cole may still be getting used to the team, but he only has one point in five games with Dallas. Someone besides Jagr has to step up tonight if Dallas wants to win.
There will be no Jamie Benn, Morrow or Aaron Rome tonight. Lehtonen should be in net and very busy.
Possible line combos:
Smith – Roy – Jagr
Whitney – Eakin – Cole
Eriksson – Roussel – Vincour
Nystrom – Fiddler – Garbutt
Dillon – Robidas
Larsen – Daley
Goligoski – Oleksiak