Ducks, Stars fight for playoff spot
Thursday, 12.31.2009 / 4:00 PM
DUCKS (16-16-7) at STARS (17-11-11)
Last 10: Anaheim 6-3-1; Dallas 4-3-3.
Season Series: This is the fourth of six meetings between the Pacific Division foes. The Stars won the first two meetings, but the Ducks broke through with a 4-3 overtime win on Dec. 8.
Big Story: It’s two Western Conference teams on the outside of the playoff picture as the midway point of the season approaches. Both teams are showing signs of life, having each won three of their last five games.
Ducks: After being mired at the bottom of the conference for most of the first half of the season, the Ducks are slowly climbing into the playoff picture. They’re now tied for 12th in the West with the St. Louis Blues with 39 points, just eight points behind the No. 8 spot.
Bobby Ryan’s two-goal game sparked the Ducks to a 4-2 win against the Wild on Tuesday night, a desperate win for a desperate team. And they did it without Ryan Getzlaf.
“We've been in desperation mode for 10-15 games," Ryan said. "We came out hard tonight and the guys were prepared. When a guy like Getz goes down, it really impacts everybody around the room. So some guys have to step up."
Stars: One sure sign that Dallas, two points behind Vancouver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, is hitting its stride is an offensive outburst against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Stars’ 5-4 win against the defensively stingy Blackhawks on Tuesday might be what the team needs to make the push into the top eight.
"We stuck with it and scored some opportunistic goals," Brad Richards said of the win against the Western-leading Blackhawks. "It was a big challenge. They're probably the best team in the league, the way they move the puck and the talent they have. It's a big win."
Who's Hot: For the Stars, center Steve Ott has three goals and one assist in his last two games, while teammate Brad Richards has seven assists in his last five games. For the Ducks, U.S. Olympic team hopeful Bobby Ryan has four points (three goals) in his last two games.
Injury Report: The Ducks are expecting to get back Ryan Getzlaf (laceration) at some point during this three-game road trip that starts in Dallas. Right wings Joffrey Lupul (back) and Teemu Selanne (hand) are out. The Stars’ most significant injury is to defenseman Mark Fistric, who is out with a concussion.
Stat Pack: Anaheim has dropped three of four on the road and is facing a Stars team that is 7-1-2 at home since Nov. 21. … The Stars have allowed four or more goals in five of their last seven games. … Stars goalie Marty Turco has given up at least three goals for five straight starts.
Puck Drop: Anaheim had seven members of its organization named to Olympic teams on Wednesday (Canada - Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Scott Niedermayer; Finland - Selanne, Saku Koivu; Switzerland - Jonas Hiller, prospect Luca Sbisa). Will Bobby Ryan be next and wear the red, white and blue at the 2010 Olympics? Possibly, but it doesn’t mean players like Ryan can’t use going to Vancouver as motivation.
“I think it has an effect on all of your players that are potential Olympians," coach Randy Carlyle said. "You can't help as a player to not think about it. The one thing that we've asked is their contribution is to be here, first and foremost. And if they make a positive one here, it enhances their opportunity to play there.”