Another night in the NHL Western Conference, and another big game to keep the Dallas Stars in first place in the Pacific division. After winning over the Phoenix Coyotes in a shootout at home, the Stars need to get right back on the ice and find two more points tonight. Coming into town are the slumping Vancouver Canucks, right off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks last night. While the Canucks still hold onto the lead in the Northwest division because of another big season, the ‘Nucks have started to take more defeats than wins and they haven’t looked the same recently. Overall they are 3-5-3 in their last eleven games and they are 1-3-1 just in their last five. Coming in for the 2nd night of a road back-to-back, the Stars might have a great chance to beat Vancouver again tonight at home.
The biggest news out of the Canucks loss last night wasn’t the defeat, but a substantial injury they now have to deal with. Daniel Sedin (the team’s leading goal scorer) received an elbow to the head from Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith. Keith was given a penalty for elbowing and is likely to receive a suspension for the league tonight or tomorrow. With Keith Ballard, Andrew Ebbett, and Aaron Volpatti already out of the lineup, the Canucks reportedly have now lost Sedin to a probably concussion and might be without one of the league’s top offensive threats for a while. For Dallas, the Stars will be without Mark Fistric for at least a week as he deals with an abdominal strain. Fistric has been huge since the Stars traded Nicklas Grossmann, getting more playing time and shining most nights since his minutes went up. Now the Stars will turn to Adam Pardy to fill out the lineup for at least a few more games.
The puck drops for third meeting between the two teams at 7:30PM from American Airlines Center. The Stars struggled with Vancouver the last couple of years, but so far they are 2-0 against the Canucks this season. A big stat: the Stars are 12-3-0 against teams from the Northwest this season, and that includes 7-1-0 at home. With the Los Angeles Kings only one point behind them, the Stars will need to continue that magic tonight. Kari Lehtonen will get the nod again for the Stars, while young (but very talented) backup Cory Schneider will start for the Canucks after Roberto Luongo started last night in Chicago.
- While the Stars are 12-3-0 against Northwestern opponents, the Canucks are 7-5-4 against Pacific division teams.
- The Canucks have ten more points than the Stars, but Dallas is 7-2-1 in their last ten and they’ve been hot over the last month while the Canucks have had issues with consistency.
- The Kings host the St. Louis Blues tonight, and if the Stars lose in regulation, the Kings could take the Pacific division lead from the Stars heading into the weekend.