Every game is big at this point of the season and the importance of Thursday's game isn’t lost on the Dallas Stars. A win will help them move them within to at least one point of eighth place and, if Calgary loses to Phoenix, the Stars would move into the top eight in the West.
“We look every single day to see what the Western Conference standings look like. We want to be a playoff team obviously and continue to build from there,” said Stars forward Steve Ott. “You look at even third place isn’t too far away. I know it’s stretching and not being completely realistic at this time, but it’s becoming a lot closer every single day. Hopefully we can find a way to continue to get points.”
Third place in the West is a stretch, but not totally out of reach. The Stars are five points behind San Jose, but the Sharks do have a couple games in hand.
But right now just getting into the playoff picture is the goal, and to do that and solidify a spot the Stars are going to have to do something they really haven’t done since the beginning of the season – put together a good run.
“If we can find a way to put three, four or above (wins) together that’s going to continue to a put pressure on a lot of other teams,” Ott said. “You’ve seen streaks already. Phoenix had a great streak they just put together and that’s why they are where they are right now. We need to find one. We need to find a way to string a few together and collect those valuable points at this crunch time of the season.”
Sheldon Souray will be back after missing seven games with a foot injury and will be paired with Philip Larsen to start the game, according to Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. Adam Pardy will be the healthy scratch.
“The last three games he’s played real well,” Gulutzan said of Pardy. “It’s real good to have that depth on D, and we’ve got competition again. I think Pards have proved his worth coming back in here a little bit and got himself back on the map to play. Now we’ve got some competition for jobs.”
Adam Burish, who missed the last game due to illness, will be back in the lineup. He will play on the fourth line with Ryan Garbutt and Toby Petersen. Garbutt will play center, which is his natural position.
Richard Bachman is in goal tonight.
Here’s the Stars’ projected lineup.