The Dallas Stars are back at it tonight, taking on the Vancouver Canucks at American Airlines Center. It’s a big game for the Stars, who are trying to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race. They are four points out of the final playoff spot, but have two games in hand and one game left against eighth-place Columbus.
The Stars are aware of what’s going on with the teams around them in the race, but they don’t want to get too caught up in it.
“It’s tough not to look at it. We want to be in the playoffs and we know who we’re chasing and we know exactly what’s going on, but at the same time you can look too much at what’s going on,” said defenseman Stephane Robidas. “We’ve got to take care of what we can do. What the other teams are doing is out of our control. We know we have two games against them (Columbus and ninth-place Detroit) the last two games of the year. That’s why it’s up to us to win the games. Got to start tonight.”
They aren’t getting too caught up in their recent five game winning streak that helped them move closer to that final spot. There’s still a lot of hockey left.
“The run was nice and it put you in a position to have success, but there are six games left and it starts tonight,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We’re going to come out hard, be ready to play and we’re going to chip away at this thing until we get it done.”
As for tonight’s game against the Canucks, the Stars are looking to use that same formula that helped them put together that recent run.
“We’ve just got to play the same way. Play a simple game. I think we’ve just got to focus on what we need to do to be successful tonight,” said Robidas. “We can’t look at the schedule and see what’s going to happen tomorrow. One game at a time, it’s going to be a big game for us tonight. Vancouver is a good team. We just have to be ready to play simple but play aggressive and be ahead early in the game.”
The Stars get Kari Lehtonen back in goal tonight. He missed the last three games due to a groin injury. The Stars won three out of four games after Lehtonen left in the first period of last Tuesday’s game against Los Angeles.
“I thought Bachs (Richard Bachman) did a heck of a job, if you look at the body of work,” said Gulutzan. “He got three out of four. He played well and put us in a position to keep moving here. Now, Kari has got to come in and take over. It’s good to get one of your top players back. Goaltending is important this time of year, everybody knows that.”
Corey Schneider will be in goal for the Canucks tonight.
Injury notes: Daley in tonight
Stars defenseman Trevor Daley, who missed practice yesterday with an upper body issue, will play tonight. That means the Stars should go with the same defensive pairs as the past few games, indicating that Jordie Benn will be the scratch on defense.
The Stars’ lines at this morning’s skate were the same used in yesterday’s practice.
Alex Chiasson (shoulder) and Lane MacDermid (chest) are out.
Stars projected lineup