Stars face stern test in Vancouver

The Stars finish their road trip in Canada with a tough game against the Canucks at Rogers Arena. Dallas still sits top of the incredibly tight Pacific division, with Phoenix on the same tally of points but having played a game more. The Stars take on the Canucks tonight and the Sharks tomorrow, 2 games that could decide their season.

The first goal of the game is going to be crucial tonight. When the Canucks score first, they have a record of 39-9-4. When the Stars score first, they have a record of 30-8-3. Those are 2 great records meaning the first goal will play a big part in the outcome of the game tonight.

Trying to stop the first goal being conceded will be 2 of the leagues best goaltenders; Kari Lehtonen and Roberto Luongo. Lehtonen has been awesome for the Stars this season, providing the team a solid platform to work from. He has recorded 32 wins in 55 starts, with a save percentage of .924. In comparison, Roberto Luongo had a very poor start to the year, but has had a much better second half. He has recorded 29 wins with a save percentage of .920.

Vancouver offers several potent weapons going forward but they have stuttered of late. Henrik Sedin has no goals and seven assists in 16 games, a number considerably low by his standards, and both Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler are without a point for 7 games. Daniel Sedin, who creates a deadly partnership with brother Henrik, is out for tonight’s game with concussion.

Dallas continues to be without the services of Radek Dvorak (ankle) and Eric Nystrom(leg), which gets rid of their third line, a line that was very effective in the first half of the season. Mark Fistric (abdominal) skated this morning but will a late decision will be required as to whether he can play.

The key aspect of the game for me is Dallas' second line, one of the hottest in the NHL right now, consisting of Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder. With Vancouver struggling to score of late, if this line fire on all cylinders I think the Stars can pick up 2 points. Puck drop is at 9pm ET.