By Kyle Shohara
After playing seven consecutive games against teams that will not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Ducks (43-24-10, 96 pts.) will have no problem getting up for tonight’s contest against the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars (48-22-9, 105 pts.). A win tonight for Anaheim will put the club back in first place, one point ahead of the LA Kings, who lost, 3-2, yesterday to the Stars. A win for Dallas (and a St. Louis regulation loss against Colorado) will clinch the Central Division and the No. 1 playoff seed in the West.
Former Stars center Shawn Horcoff says this game comes at a good time for the Ducks.
“We need to up our game,” he said. “We need our game to be at its best. No better than to get it ready against the big teams. They're the top team in the West. They're going to be a great challenge for us. We have to be ready.”
Yesterday, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau warned against the mentality of "flipping the switch" come playoff time. These days, you have to already be playing at a playoff-type level heading into the postseason. To a man, the Ducks can admit they haven’t been close to that in the last handful of games, so perhaps Dallas tonight and LA (on Thursday) come at a good time.
Andrew Cogliano agrees with Boudreau, and says tonight will be an indication of the level of intensity needed for the postseason.
“Dallas is at the top of the conference for a reason,” Cogliano said. “This will be a good measuring stick to see where we are as a team, and to see how far we've come. It'll show us what level we need to be at going into the playoffs. We haven't played exceptionally well over the last little bit, but we have to get our game in order in terms of playing against some of the best teams.”
Both teams enter tonight’s game with injuries to key players. Anaheim’s injury list is long enough to dress a starting lineup. Goaltender Frederik Andersen (concussion) was injured at some point in the second against Calgary on Wednesday and has not practiced since. Defensemen Kevin Bieksa (upper body) and Simon Despres (upper body) have been skating, but will not play tonight. Center Rickard Rakell (appendectomy), left wing Brandon Pirri (upper body) and David Perron (shoulder) won’t play.
The Stars’ current list of injuries includes forwards Brett Ritchie (lower body) and Tyler Seguin (Achilles laceration), and defensemen Jason Demers (upper body) and Kris Russell (lower body). Seguin suffered the Achilles injury on March 17 vs. Tampa Bay, and at the time, was expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Despite missing the past seven games, Seguin ranks 10th in the NHL in points (33-40—73) and eighth in goals.
Dallas captain Jamie Benn enters tonight's game with a four-game point streak (5-1—6), and his goal yesterday against the Kings was his 41st of the season. Benn became the first Stars player to eclipse the 40-goal mark since Mike Modano posted 50 during the 1993-94 season. The 26-year-old ranks second in the NHL with a career-high 88 points, and ranks second in the league with 41 goals and second overall in power-play goals (17). Furthermore, Benn is the only player this season to rank in the top-five in goals, points, power-play goals, power-play points (29) and shorthanded points (5).
Cogliano is one game shy of becoming the second player in NHL history to appear in 700 consecutive games to start his career. Only one player has played more consecutive games to start his career: Doug Jarvis (the NHL's all-time leader with 964 consecutive games from 1975-88).
In addition, Corey Perry is one game from becoming the second Duck in franchise history to appear in 800 career games. With his next appearance, Perry will join Teemu Selanne (966) as the only two players to reach the 800-game milestone with Anaheim.
|(RK) PLAYER ||DATE RANGE ||CONSECUTIVE GAMES |
|1. Doug Jarvis (MTL/WSH/HFD) ||Oct. 8, 1975 - Oct. 10, 1987 ||964 |
|2. Garry Unger (TOR/DET/STL/ATL) ||Feb. 24, 1968 - Dec. 21, 1979 ||914 |
|3. Steve Larmer (CHI) ||Oct. 6, 1982 - Apr. 15, 1993 ||884 |
|4. Craig Ramsey (BUF) ||Mar. 27, 1973 - Feb. 10, 1983 ||776 |
|5. Jay Bouwmeester (FLA/CGY/STL) ||Mar. 6, 2004 - Nov. 22, 2014 ||737 |
|6. Andrew Cogliano (EDM/ANA) ||Oct. 4, 2007 - present ||699 |
|7. Henrik Sedin (VAN) ||Mar. 21, 2004 - Jan. 18, 2014 ||679 |