Divisional tests for Stars

After three days of practice the Dallas Stars are hitting the road for a pair of divisional games in California. Thursday night they take on the Kings in Los Angeles and then Friday it’s the Ducks in Anaheim.

"I think it’s a great challenge for us. Obviously they are divisional opponents,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “It’s important you do well against those teams.”

Both the Kings and Ducks are playing well. The Kings were expected to be a top team this season and they are living up to the billing. The sit on top of the Western Conference with a 10-3-0 record and have won four straight games. They are one of the stingiest teams in the league, allowing just 2.00 goals per game.

The Kings were missing defenseman Drew Doughty, who missed a total of six games with a concussion, when they beat the Stars at American Airlines Center in late October, but now Doughty is back in the lineup.

“Right now they are one of the premier teams in the league,” said Crawford. “They are going to have Doughty in the lineup. He’s a guy you have to prepare for individually along with collectively their whole group.”

And Anaheim has gotten on a bit of a roll as well. After losing their first three games by a combined score of 13-2, the Ducks have turned things around. They beat the Islanders 1-0 in Anaheim Wednesday night to run their winning streak to five games and improve to 9-7-1 on the season. The Ducks are now 6-1-1 at home.

The Stars and Ducks meet again Tuesday in Dallas, where Anaheim won in late October.

Stars’ recent history at Staples Center

The Stars haven’t had much luck winning at the Staples Center over the last few years, coming up on the short end of the score in seven of ten games over the last three seasons.

For an optimistic spin on things, you can look at a different way – they’ve picked up points in nine of the last ten games played in Los Angeles since 2007-08, going 3-1-6 in those games.

If you break that record down by points, it’s 12 in 10 games or a points percentage of .600.

The Kings? They picked up 14 points in those ten games by going 7-3-0 for a points percentage of .700.

So, for all the Kings’ apparent dominance over the Stars in L.A. over the past three seasons, they’ve picked up two more points in the ten games.

And you wonder why the NHL standings are so tight at the end of the season.