For the fifth and final time in this regular season the Anaheim Ducks will faceoff against the Dallas Stars. The two teams met twice earlier in the season and split the games with a win-a-piece, before meeting again this week where they would face each other three games in a row, the final of which is tonight’s game in Anaheim. Anaheim has dominated the three game mini-series this week, beating the Stars in Dallas on Monday by a score of 4-0, and in Anaheim on Wednesday by a score of 5-2.
Surely the Dallas Stars are a deflated team having become sellers at the trade deadline, which passed on Wednesday at 3 PM, (EST). On Monday Dallas had center Derek Roy and future hall of famer forward Jaromir Jagr in their lineup and by Wednesday both players were gone with the Stars having received some draft picks and prospect players in return. The loss of Jagr and Roy meant the Stars lost two of their three top point producers, a serious blow to Dallas’ already average offense.
The Ducks on the other hand were buyers at the deadline, acquiring center Matthew Lombardi from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for winger Brandon McMillan. 23-year-old McMillan had not seen much time with the Ducks this year, playing six games, and tallying one assist. Lombardi, (age 31), brings some experience to the Ducks lineup, with the Ducks being his fifth NHL team. Lombardi played 62 games last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, tallying 18 points, and 21 games with the Coyotes this season, totaling in 8 points.
While not a huge point producer Lombardi’s experience could prove invaluable to the Ducks on the second line. Rather than experimenting with Bobby Ryan at center or trying to slot in a younger centermen not yet prepared for a top six role, Lombardi should be a stable presence that will fit very nicely alongside Teemu Selanne and whoever finds their way on the second line, (recently Emerson Etem). Most importantly, the Ducks didn’t lose any current roster players in the trade, nor did they overpay with draft picks or prospects.
Of course the big question right now is will Ryan Getzlaf be in tonight’s lineup? The Ducks captain suffered a minor lower body injury in Wednesday’s game, from which he returned to the game and scored a goal, (how’s that for awesome?). After the goal coach Bruce Boudreau sent Getzy to the locker room if for no other reason than to avoid further injury. Getzlaf did not participate in this morning’s skate however, to which Boudreau, via Ducks beat writer, Eric Stephens, stated:
BB said Getzlaf is a game-time decision. It is captain’s call on whether he wants to go or sit out a game. Injury is not serious.
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) April 5, 2013
It might be wise for Getzlaf to sit one out and not aggravate anything, and if he decides to do just that Boudreau is prepared to give Lombardi some top-line minutes.
BB said Lombardi could be an option to center top line if Getzlaf doesn’t play. Steckel is available for action.
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) April 5, 2013
Jonas Hiller did not skate this morning either as he is fighting off a cold, but will still be available to backup Viktor Fasth tonight. Fasth posted a shutout on Monday and a win on Wednesday, and will hopefully be as solid in net as he’s been the past two games.
If the Ducks win tonight it could very well be the beginning of the end of the season for the Dallas Stars. The Stars currently are 20 points behind the Ducks in the standings, but only 5 points out of playoff contention. Dallas currently sits at 13th in the Western Conference, but with teams like Nashville, Phoenix, Columbus, (shocking right?), Edmonton and St. Louis ahead of them in the standings, it’s unlikely the Stars find their way into the postseason, especially without Jagr and Roy.
The Ducks have all but assured themselves of a playoff spot as they sit 3 points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the top spot in the Western Conference. A win tonight would add to the Ducks point buffer between them and their closest division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, (both of which are at least 10 points behind the Ducks currently). If the Ducks continue to win they should be able to easily clinch both a playoff spot and the Pacific Division.
Tonight’s game begins at 7 PM, (PST), and will be shown on Fox Sports West.
Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Bobby Ryan, Bruce Boudrea, Dallas Stars, Jaromir Jagr, Matthew Lombardi, Pacific Division, Playoff Push, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Getzlaf Update, Teemu Selanne, Trade, Trade Deadline, Viktor Fasth