Feb 1, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Trevor Daley (6) and center Cody Eakin (20) and left wing Ray Whitney (13) and defenseman Jordie Benn (58) and right wing Michael Ryder (73) celebrate a goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeat the Coyotes in the overtime shootout 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

High-Flying Anaheim Ducks Drop In On Division Rival Dallas Stars

Dallas, TX - The Anaheim Ducks continue their 12-day road trip Friday night when they visit the American Airlines Center to play the Dallas Stars. This will be the first matchup between these two division rivals this season. Last season, the Stars dominated the season series against the Ducks, winning five of the six games and outscoring the Ducks 19-11 in those six games. The Ducks are coming off a shutout performance by Viktor Fasth in a win over the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars are coming off an overtime victory of the Edmonton Oilers.

So far this season, the Stars have gotten a lot out of their 40+ age free agent signings. Jaromir Jagr leads the team in points (8) with 3 goals and 5 assists. Ray Whitney is tied for second on team in points (6) with 2 goals and 4 assists. However, Whitney is on injured reserve and expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks with a foot injury. Another offseason acquistion, Derek Roy, also has spent time off the ice. He missed five games with a groin injury but returned earlier this week. Of course, Roy was a part of the trade that sent center Steve Ott to Buffalo. I think everyone agrees that we’re happy we don’t have to deal with him anymore. The Stars recently got back one of the cornerstones of the franchise when Jamie Benn finally agreed to a contract. He was a restricted free agent up until a couple weeks ago when he agreed to his new 5-year contract worth over $26 million.

Feb 1, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) skates in the Phoenix Coyotes zone during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeat the Coyotes in the overtime shootout 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars have been inconsistent offensively this season. They are averaging just 2.00 goals per game, which is down from 2.49 goals per game last season. They have scored 3 or more goals just five times this season. However, since getting Benn back, their offense is significantly better and it has showed. Their goaltending with Kari Lehtonen has been better than the offense. The Stars as a team last season were in the middle of the pack when it came to Goals Against Average, but they have moved up to just outside the top ten so far this season. Lehtonen has 8 starts and 9 games played posting a 2.46 GAA and a .926 SV %.

Much like the matchup against the Los Angeles Kings, this matchup will involve a special teams matchup that matches one good PP with a good PK and a bad PP with a bad PK. The Stars are ranked 24th in the league on the power play, currently 13.9%. They are significantly better on the penalty kill, currently ranked 9th at 83.3%. However, with guys like Benn, Jagr, Whitney and Loui Eriksson on the ice, the Stars can be pretty dangerous on the powerplay. Defenseman Alex Goligoski who normally is a fixture on the blue line for the power play has really struggled this season. He has no points in his last four games and the coaches have resulted in using him as a healthy scratch to try and wake him up.

We all know how well the Ducks are playing right now. Captain Ryan Getzlaf is really playing well and leading the Ducks on and off the ice. The ageless wonders of Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu don’t seem to be slowing down any just yet. Daniel Winnik is still being effective. Rookies Sami Vatanen and Emerson Etem are looking good. Kyle Palmieri also continues to develop well. Both goalies are winning games, albeit in different manners. Things are going right, right now for the Ducks and things are starting to get right for the Stars. Tonight’s game should be a good one! The goaltending matchup will be between Lehtonen and Jonas HIller. Enjoy!

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Tags: Alex Goligoski Anaheim Ducks Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars Daniel Winnik Derek Roy Edmonton Oilers Emerson Etem Jamie Benn Jaromir Jagr Kari Lehtonen Kyle Palmieri Loui Eriksson NHL Ray Whitney Ryan Getzlaf Saku Koivu Sami Vatanen Steve Ott Teemu Selanne Viktor Fasth

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