Despite recent struggles, Stars fans have plenty to be optimistic about with the expected return of veteran defenseman Sergei Zubov. Zubov missed training camp and first 12 games of the regular season after undergoing hip surgery in mid-September. His return to the lineup will no doubt strengthen the Dallas defensive core.
“Zubov is a very good player,” Stars Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “A top player in this league. He’s had a good couple days of practice. We’ve seen that he and [Matt] Niskanen can be a good pair together and we’ll see if that works again this year.”
Another fresh face in a Stars uniform this weekend will be veteran right winger Mark Parrish, signed by the Stars on Nov. 5. Parrish has more than 650 career NHL games under his belt and should bring some much-needed firepower to the recently depleted Dallas offense.
“Mark Parrish is a solid veteran player,” Tippett said. “He knows his role on the team, he’s a good right-handed guy and a solid man on the power play.”
Though Parrish has been in Dallas just two days, he knows the team is capable beyond its current 4-6-2 record and said it’s going to be exciting to be a part of getting this season going on the right track.
“You can just see the talent out there on the ice,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time before this team turns it around.”
Anaheim poses the first challenge to the Stars’ turnaround hopes this weekend. After starting the season 1-5-0, the Ducks have found their stride and gone an impressive 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Anaheim center Ryan Getzlaf is tied for the league lead with 18 points (6g 12a).
San Jose is certainly not a team to go quietly, either. The Sharks currently sit atop the NHL with 22 points, having started the season a notable 11-2-0, including 7-0-0 at HP Pavilion. Center Patrick Marleau leads the team with 13 points (6g, 7a) followed closely by Devin Setoguchi with 12 points (7g, 5a).
Dallas has history with both of these teams, ousting both division rivals from the playoffs last season. Dallas beat Anaheim in six games in the first round, and also took six games to beat San Jose in Round Two, including a memorable Game Six in Dallas that lasted into the fourth overtime and sent the Stars to the Western Conference Finals.
“We had some hard-fought battles between these two teams last year,” Tippett said. “They are big challenges for us and we’re looking to get out group in the right direction. It might as well be against good teams.”