The Canucks (aka the coach killers) take their much improved road show to Big D this morning (grumble grumble)for an 11am PST match against the Stars. The Canucks pulled off a gutsy comeback on NYE against the bafflingly bad at home St. Louis Blues, and now hope to move their road record to 1 game under .500 with a win today.
Dallas is a hard team to figure out as we sit at the halfway point of the season. By now we know pretty much what to expect from just about every team in the NHL, but Dallas' record doesn't tell you if the team is good or bad. They have as many outright losses as they do OT/SO losses. Is the team good because they find a way to get the extra frame? How many of those games were blown leads? Weren't they the most feared team in the shootout a couple years ago? While the Stars sit in 9th, their loser points have vaulted them ahead of teams that have more wins (Detroit and Minnesota). Even their last 10 games doesn't give you a clear picture of what's going on (5-3-2). Is their jumbo Texas-sized beer mug half full or half empty? One thing's for sure; Brad Richards really seems to have re-discovered himself in Dallas. He leads the team in scoring this season, and should he stay healthy is on pace to set a career mark for points. The Stars have 2 solid lines, and their bottom 6 are nothing to sneeze at, and while Marty Turco is playing better than he did last season, you can't help but wonder why the Stars aren't winning more often.
The Canucks will have Brad Lukowich available for the game today, as he has cleared call-up waivers from the AHL. No word yet if Vigneault will stick him in the lineup, if not expect to see Aaron Rome in the #6 slot. It doesn't appear Rick Rypien will be disciplined by the NHL after receiving a match penalty Thursday night for having tape on his thumb. I am sure that should he fight today the officials have already been informed of the injury and we won't see a repeat. Mikeal Samuelsson has been playing extremely well since being informed of not being chosen for Sweden's Olympic squad (and revealing himself to be a potty-mouth), as the Canucks continue to get balanced scoring from three lines as well as the defense. Shane O'Brien will need to rebound from a lackluster performance in St. Louis as the news on Kevin Bieksa's cut from a skate in Tuesday's OT loss in Phoenix. The minutes are there for him as long as he continues to play well (but Shane'O, next time you see a guy like Barrett Jackman manhandling the Sedins, it's perfectly fine to go kick his ass. Really. We won't mind, and neither will AV), but Rome will need to step up or he will find himself sitting in place of Lukowich.
The Canucks and Stars have split the season series so far, both 1 goal games (aren't they always against Dallas?), but I fully expect the Canucks to gut out a hard fought victory today, as they continue to gain confidence on the road heading into the Mother of All Road Trips (tm) in February. Luongo and Turco getting the starts, and the action can be seen with Shorty & Cheech on Sportsnet Pacific, and heard at http://www.team1040.ca