Leave it to the Stars to dig themselves into a hole at the wrong time. After controlling the top of the Pacific division for most of the season and looking like the surprise team of the year, your Dallas Stars are now in a free fall that has been well documented everywhere this week. Now the Stars need to find a way to manufacture a win on the road against the team that has their number. Tonight the Stars clash with the Vancouver Canucks, and neither team is in good shape health-wise.
The Stars will again be without Brad Richards, and some other guys named Benn, Grossman, Burish, Barch, and more. So Dallas goes into Vancouver with a 1-6-1 record since the All-Star break and are without a few key guys on the team and their best player. Adding to that, the Stars slump now has rumors about Richards being dealt flying around all over again. There are distractions, injuries and such, the recent play, and the fact that they seemingly can not even compete with the Canucks. Tonight does not look good at all for the Stars.
If there is one thing that could be good, it is that the Canucks are banged up too. The top team in the NHL will be without six guys, and three of their top 4-5 blueliners. So Vancouver enters the game with a very similar team in the sense that both are pretty banged up and bruised right now. But the problem is not just that the Stars can not score on the Canucks, it is that the Nucks offense and powerplay have torched the Stars in the two teams’ three previous meeting this season. Scoring so far this season in the matchups? 15 goals for the Canucks, and the Stars have had one goal in each game.
Andrew Raycroft gets the start in the net tonight, and hopefully a little change-up and a few days to practice will have the Stars ready to go tonight. But they can not come out slow like they have often recently and throughout the season, and the special teams battle will be huge tonight. To have a chance Dallas needs to limit the PP chances against, score on their extra-man advantages at least 1-2 times, and have Raycroft play a solid game in the crease.
Prediction: Van 3, Dallas 2 (OT/Shootout) – Stars will be more competitive tonight, and take advantage of the Canucks being banged up as well. But without Richards and Benn still, the Stars will be relying on Ribs, Morrow, Loui, and Neal. In the end I think the Canucks offense still pulls it out.