Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Stars Nip the Coyotes in Overtime, Try to Get Healthy
The Stars got a good effort last night, team-wide, despite giving up a point to the team they're chasing in the standings. The 2-1 victory over the Phoenix 'Yotes was one of the "must-wins" being talked about in the media so much lately. It's tough to see the Stars surrender a point to a team they're trying to catch, but progress is progress, and it's better than flipping those points around if Phoenix were to get the win.
Loui Eriksson had both of the Stars goals last night - neither score was a finesse one, but they put points on the scoreboard. It's really nice to see a young talent the Stars have been touting for years step up when the team needs him to. This is the kind of production they were hoping Antti Miettenan and Junior Lessard would give them, but never did. Right now, Eriksson is on pace to have 38 goals and 22 assists for a 60-point season.
A few things about injuries have come out in the last couple of days. Stephane Robidas had a metal plate stitched into his jaw last week to repair the latest damage he's taken. Word is that he is eager to get back out on the ice already. This man is like a Terminator robot; he just keeps coming at you. While his eagerness to get back is laudable, Coach Dave Tippett is urging him to take it slow, and Robidas will need to get medical approval to return. Chances are that won't be for Thursday's game against Columbus.
The other folks on the mend who could return to action soon are Joel Lundqvist, Jere Lehtinen and Brian Sutherby. Lundqvist has been mentioned by both Mike Heika and Tracey Myers as the most likely to return to action by Thursday, but even that is probably remote. But, all are skating, and that's a good sign.
Thursday's game is another big one that we probably have to have in order to get back into the hunt for the playoffs. It's weird to think of playoff pictures already, but when you're this far back and other teams are performing as well as they are, every game counts. It's unlikely the Stars will catch the Sharks for a division title this year; the Sharks are just so good and so deep this year, it'll be difficult. But, the #4 spot is still a good one, and it's never to early to think about positioning yourself well.
The Blue Jackets (13-14-1-2) have a very similar record to our own (12-14-2-2). We're playing at home, though, where we've played better this year. And the Jackets are pretty atrocious on the road so far this year (4-9-1-1). Their young goalie, Steve Mason, has been playing well lately though - he earned rookie of the month honors in November with a 1.98 GAA in 14 games. Turco will probably start for the Stars, and if he's on his game, we could see another low-scoring match.