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Skating with the Stars

Friday, 10.21.2011 / 2:39 PM
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Ducks Off the Ice by Adam Brady
Skating with the Stars

So, I guess we're going to do this whole "the Western Conference is brutally tough" thing all over again this year, huh?

To wit, the Anaheim Ducks have raced out to a 4-1-0 record, the best start through five games since their Cup season of 2006-07. And what has it gotten them so far? Sixth place in the West and third in their own division. Seriously?? That's what 4-1 gets you these days??? That's like climbing Mt. Everest and seeing five guys already there waiting for you at the top, clinking Miller Lite bottles together.

The leader of the Pacific, the Dallas Stars, are owners of an even glossier 5-1-0 start and a four-game winning streak that matches Anaheim's. Meanwhile, Jonas Hiller's 1.71 goals-against average and .938 save percentage are impressive -- but not quite as good as Stars backstop Kari Lehtonen's 1.58 and .953.

The good news is, we're going to get a close look at just how good Lehtonen and his Stars really are, when they're in this building tonight for another intriguing intra-division battle. If this matters to you, Hiller is 4-3-1 with a 2.40 GAA and .933 save percentage in his career against the Stars. Lehtonen is 3-4-2 in vs. the Ducks with a 3.21 and .898.

As much as the Ducks have struggled with their starts the past few seasons, Dallas' 5-1-0 mark is the second straight season they've done that (they just missed the postseason on the final day last year).

That team has a slightly different look this season, with rookie coach Glen Gulutzan (thank you, copy and paste) taking over after coaching the AHL's Texas Stars the last two seasons.  And while the summer loss of Brad Richards to the Rangers was a big blow, if obviously hasn't hurt Dallas much so far. They still have scorers like Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson (both notorious Duck killers), Brenden Morrow and Jamie Benn. And they brought in veteran Sheldon Souray and his booming shot for a one-year deal over the summer.

Souray is an interesting story, as he was placed on waivers by the Oilers last season and cleared (partly because of his big salary cap hit). He was assigned to the Hershey Bears, Washington's AHL affiliate, where he was a teammate of our own Andrew Gordon. The Oilers tried to trade him at the deadline last year and didn't, and Dallas signed him in July. So far it's been a good move, as Souray has a goal and four assists in six games.

Souray, who has battled a number of injuries in his career, missed practice yesterday with a wrist problem. But Gulutzan said he'll be in the lineup tonight after getting a shot in the area.

The Ducks are possibly getting their own banged-up defenseman back tonight, as Kurtis Foster is reportedly available. He's missed the entire regular season after having a wire removed from his thigh, but Randy Carlyle called him "an option for us in these games." The problem is, the Ducks defense has been so solid, there may not be a spot for him among the D corps of Visnovsky-Lydman, Fowler-Beauchemin and Sbisa-Brookbank.

"When you have healthy bodies and you have people that have played to a high level, these decisions become more difficult,” Carlyle said.

The Stars, by the way, were outshot 40-18 in their win Tuesday night in Columbus and have been outshot 134-100 during their four-game roll.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 77 48 22 7 225 215 103
2 x - NSH 76 47 21 8 218 183 102
3 STL 75 46 22 7 228 186 99
4 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
5 CHI 74 44 24 6 209 172 94
6 VAN 75 43 27 5 215 203 91
7 WPG 75 39 24 12 212 197 90
8 LAK 75 37 24 14 200 188 88
9 CGY 75 40 28 7 219 199 87
10 DAL 76 37 29 10 236 243 84
11 SJS 75 37 30 8 210 212 82
12 COL 75 35 28 12 205 209 82
13 EDM 75 22 40 13 181 254 57
14 ARI 76 23 45 8 160 252 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 74 24 44 14 68
C. Perry 62 32 20 16 52
R. Kesler 77 19 27 -4 46
S. Vatanen 62 12 25 6 37
J. Silfverberg 76 12 23 12 35
P. Maroon 68 9 25 -3 34
C. Fowler 75 7 27 5 34
J. Wisniewski 65 8 25 -14 33
H. Lindholm 73 7 26 22 33
M. Beleskey 63 22 10 15 32
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 33 11 5 .914 2.40
J. Gibson 12 7 0 .914 2.65

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