GDRC – Stars @ Canucks

The last time Dallas came to Vancouver, this dude was there. And that girl looks stunned. After last night’s game, though, the Canucks need to get their head in the game.

The Vancouver Canucks got lucky last night. Call it payback, call it karma, call it an even-up, call it whatever you like, but the Canucks got lucky last night and beat the Edmonton Oilers.
Now, the Canucks return home to play the second half of back-to-back games, as they host the Dallas Stars tonight at GM Place.

The Dallas Stars have become a bit of a rival of the Canucks in the past few years, starting with their first round playoff series in 2007. The Stars have all the elements of a great rival; a solid competitive team, a cocky goaltender (Turco), a top-notch heel (Ott), and now a coach who used to run things here in Vancouver. It all makes for great theatre, and hopefully it will allow for a great game tonight.
The Stars are currently on the outside of the playoff picture, trailing the 8th place Los Angeles Kings by 4 points. A good portion of the Stars modest success this season has been because of their ability to get games into extra time. They have 11 OT points this season, without which they would likely be one of the bottom three teams in the Western Conference. In fact, the Stars have the third fewest wins in the West.

Dallas is very much like Edmonton in the reason for their struggles. Dallas doesn’t have a real issue scoring goals, but they’re having a hard time stopping goals, and winning on the road. The Stars are ranked 24th in GA and GA per game. More specifically, they are 28th in GA in the 2nd period. So the time to hit the Stars is the middle frame. Dallas is also struggling on the PK. They are 27th in total PK, and 24th on the road. And they have definitely struggled of late on the road, where they have lost 9 in a row. They are marginally better at 4-6-0 in their last 10 games overall, and have won their last two games, both at home.

Offensively, the Stars are finally getting some premier production out of Brad Richards. Richards leads the team with 57 points and is second in goals. Their goal leader is Loui Eriksson with 20 goals, who is having a breakout year of his own. The problem though for the Stars is that, despite the offensive bursts, they just can’t keep the puck out of the net. They have only 6 players who have a +/- above 0, and only one in double-digits (former Vancouver Giant Marc Fistric is +11).

The Canucks will face a similar situation tonight as they did last night – they meet a struggling team that is having a very tough year defensively. The Canucks were quite lucky to eke out a win last night at Rexall Place. They will need to be much better tonight as they face a much tougher test. The Stars are always a frustrating opponent for the Canucks and this time, the Canucks will likely face another former teammate.  Alex Auld is slated to play in net for the Stars tonight, after taking the goalie reins over from Marty Turco, who has struggled in net this season. Auld’s numbers aren’t great (2.94 GAA, .898 Sv%), but he is putting up wins (7W-4L).

The Canucks can’t count on getting the same luck with the officials that they got last night. They need to open this game up, and press for goals in the 2nd period. If they can improve on their forecheck from last game, and take over the 2nd period, the Canucks will see success tonight. With that, the Canucks should be able to take both ends of back-to-back games and can look onward to hosting the Blackhawks on Saturday night.