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Dallas looks for answers in Windy City

by Adam Schwartz /
Prior to an eventful Saturday, the NHL present a light Halloween night schedule comprised of 2 Western Conference games that promise to entertain.

While kids are out trick or treating at 8:30 p.m., the Dallas Stars, who have stumbled out of the gate, look to get their third win in 4 games when they face off against the Chicago Blackhawks, who are looking to put a halt to their current 2-game slide.

At 10 p.m., the Vancouver Canucks and All-Star goalie Roberto Luongo look for their second shutout in as many nights when they take on the red-hot Anaheim Ducks, who are tied with the League's longest current winning streak at 5 games.

Here's what to watch:

* The Stars, whose defense was thought to be one of the best in the NHL, has yielded the most goals in the League with 40. Dallas, which went to the Western Conference Finals last season, has the worst penalty kill in the Pacific Division with a 74.5 percent success rate.

* Dallas center Mike Ribeiro, who had 3 points in his first 7 games this season, has 7 points in his last 3 games, including a 5-point effort in the Stars' 5-3 win last Thursday against the New York Islanders. Ribeiro, who had a career-high of 83 points last season, is on a 90-point pace this season.

* The Blackhawks, whose penalty kill is tied for sixth in the League with an 86.5 percent success rate, have the worst road power play in the Western Conference with just a 7.1 percent success rate, which translates to 1 goal in 14 attempts. Chicago, which is 1 of 6 teams to have scored multiple 5-on-3 goals this season, is just 2 points behind the Nashville Predators for second place in the Central Division.

* Chicago right wing Martin Havlat, who has played just 91 games the past 2 seasons, is tied for second among Blackhawks with 9 points. Havlat, who has had 4 seasons with at least 50 points, has played more than 20 minutes just 3 times this season and has played less than 15 minutes twice.

* Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg, who is playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, is second in rookie scoring with 8 points in 9 games. Versteeg, selected No. 134 in the 2004 NHL Draft, has not had more than 52 points in a season dating back to his 3 seasons in the Western Hockey League, but he is on pace to get 73 points this season.

* Canucks left wing Mason Raymond, who has recently been switched to a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, leads the team with 4 goals. Despite being 6-foot, 182 pounds, Raymond is a speedy wing, whom coach Alain Vigneault has been using on the point during the power play.

* Vancouver center Ryan Kesler leads the team with 10 takeaways, 97 faceoff wins and a 56.1 faceoff-winning percentage. Kesler, who has never had more than 37 points in a season, is tied for the team lead with 9 points this season. In 11 career games against the Ducks, Kesler has scored just 3 goals and has a minus-6 rating.

* Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler, who became a mainstay on the Vancouver blue line last season as a rookie, is tied for the team lead with a plus-4 rating. Edler, who had 20 points in 75 games last season, has 5 points in 9 games already this season while averaging the second most ice time among Vancouver players with 22:46 per game.

* Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, who had just 1 assist in his first 6 games this season, has 3 goals and 7 assists since then, including a 5-assist game Wednesday in Anaheim's 5-4 overtime victory against Detroit. Getzlaf, who plays on a line with Corey Perry and Chris Kunitz, has played more than 20 minutes in just 3 games this season.

* Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who has a career-high of 8 goals, has 4 goals in just 11 games this season. Beauchemin, who plays for the Ducks second power-play unit, has just 1 of his 5 points on the power play this season.

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