Sometimes a break is not necessarily a good thing. The Dallas Stars got a few days off in between action, but at this point in the season it wasn’t such a great thing. During their time off since their last game, a 3-2 SO loss to the Flyers on Saturday, the Stars have dropped down to 9th place in conference. Now the Stars have 10 games left in their season to fight for a playoff spot and avoid getting the 8th spot, where a first round battle with the Vancouver Canucks would almost certainly mean a quick defeat for the Stars.
The days off did allow Dallas to try to nurse some injuries and try to get healthy, but it did not really happen for the Stars. Loui Eriksson is expected to try and make his return tonight, which is good after he has missed the last two games since taking a high hit. But since the weekend the Stars have found out that Nicklas Grossman could be out a while with an MCL sprain. So Grossman could be out of the lineup for a least a couple of weeks, adding him to the injury list. Despite their time off the home team will still be missing Grossman, Skrastins, Burish, and Sutherby tonight when they get back into action.
Tonight the Stars start the sprint to the finish with a big game against the Anaheim Ducks at the AAC. Both divisional rivals come into the game sitting at 85 points through 72 games, but the Ducks sit in 8th because they own the tiebreakers against the Stars. The two teams have squared off four times this season already, and the two now have two more meetings in just over two weeks time. Both teams need the points desperately in the crazy and constantly shifting Western Conference, and both still have a solid chance at making the playoffs. 85 points puts both teams only three points behind 5th place L.A. (who has played 73 games) and only six behind 4th place Phoenix who has already played 75 games. So either team could go on a point streak here and still finish in a solid position, or either team could play 50/50 hockey down the stretch and end up in the 9th or 10th spot. This is the time of the season where it all comes down to who really wants the wins and points.
Every powerplay (the Stars weakness right now), every penalty kill, and every single shift. This is not the regular season anymore, this is the first round of the playoffs. Every game matters right now. Every single team in West is getting points right now, even if it’s through all these dang three point games. The Stars can no longer play 45 minutes of a game or give a team a two-goal lead and THEN decide to start playing serious hockey. Now is the time to either play like they truly can and take a run at the playoffs. Now is the time to get to work and really make their move.