Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Ducks: Everything is bigger in Texas
By Dan Arritt
Ducks (40-27-5, 85 points) vs. Dallas Stars (38-25-9, 85) at American Airlines Center, 5:30 p.m. ET
Five storylines to track:
1. No bigger than this – When it comes to late-season games, they don’t get more magnified than this. The eighth-place Ducks and ninth-place Stars each have 85 points but Anaheim is ahead on the tiebreaker because it has less shootout victories. Ducks coach Randy Carlyle acknowledged the importance of the game following practice Tuesday, calling it the biggest game of the season. Well, until the next game Thursday in Nashville.
2. Perry continues to shine – Ducks forward Corey Perry scored his career-high 39th goal of the season in overtime Sunday to defeat the Calgary Flames, 5-4. Perry became the first Anaheim player to score overtime goals in consecutive games, and the first NHL player since Todd Bertuzzi in December 2009. Perry’s 39 goals are the most by an Anaheim player since Teemu Selanne notched 48 during the Stanley Cup championship year of 2006-07. Perry has increased his point total in each of his six seasons in the NHL.
3. Elite company – The Ducks remain the only team in the NHL with four players owning 60 or more points this season; Perry (79), Selanne (67), Ryan Getzlaf (61) and Bobby Ryan(60). Toss in the 58 points by defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and the Ducks are one of only two teams with five players owning 50-plus points. Anaheim is also the only team that has three players averaging a point a game (Perry, Selanne, Getzlaf).
4. A big plus – While Visnovsky leads NHL defenseman in scoring, fellow blue liner Toni Lydman continues to lead the NHL in plus-minus rating. Lydman is plus-32 for the season, four better than Brian Campbell of Boston. Lydman has finished plus or even in 58 of 68 appearances this season. He’s also among the top 10 in the league in blocked shots (157) and is on pace to match his career high with 28 points. He assisted on Perry's overtime winner Sunday.
5. Loui’s back – Dallas left wing Loui Eriksson, who is second on the team with23 goals and 63 points, is expected to return tonight after missing the previous two games with concussion-like symptoms. Eriksson was injured last week during a collision with Douglas Murray of San Jose. Not expected to dress are defensemen Karlis Skrastins (leg laceration) and Nicklas Grossman (knee) and forwards Adam Burish (leg) and Brian Sutherby (back). Kari Lehtonen is expected to start in goal.