The Stars are looking for their first win in Bell Centre since Nov. 12, 2002 with a 4-2 score. Since then, they have only a 0-2-0 record at Montreal. This is their 5th excursion to Montreal since 2000.
Dec. 21, 2010, was their last game together where goalie Carey Price stopped 12 of Dallas' 17 shots and won the game 5-2 in spite of the Canadiens outshooting Dallas 29-17.
Dallas sits at a lowly #10 in the Western Conference Playoff rankings with 59 games played and 29-26-4, while Montreal is almost drowning at #13 in the Eastern Conference with 60 games played and 24-26-10.
The Canadiens experienced a recent run of 5-1-1 giving their fans some glimmer of hope for a Playoff run. During this run, the Canadiens dealt veteran defenseman Hal Gill to the Nashville Predators for a 2nd round pick and two prospects which includes Blake Geoffrion, whose grandfather and great grandfather have already had their numbers retired by the Canadiens. (A period of time the Stars cannot yet duplicate.)
After trading Gill, the Canadiens lost to the New Jersey Devils, ending the game at 3-1 Devils. The Canadiens lost their last three home games, 11-13-8 at home.
"We can't let any shifts slide, but we did tonight and that was definitely the difference," (Canadien left wing Max) Pacioretty said. "Maybe it's just nerves that our season could be over before the playoffs, but it's no excuse at all. In fact, it should give us more motivation to go out there and play 60 minutes hard as a team."
The Stars won 3 out of 5 games follwoing the All-Star break, then wnent 1-3-2 and dropped out of the Playoff window. Dallas has lost several chances to increase their points by losing critical games that could have garnered the team a point if they just tied at the last minute, dropping 5 of their last 6 games. The Stars continue to struggle to win, or even tie, a game lately.
"We had our chances," Goligoski said (referring to the Nashville game loss). "But I think the most disappointing thing is that we gave them most of their chances. I think one goal they really beat us, but the others were just mental mistakes."
And in the middle of, and seemingly despite, their struggle for wins, Dallas traded Swedish defenseman Nicklas Grossman earlier this month to the Philadelphia Flyers for 2 future trades, one in 2012 and one in 2013. The Stars have lost thei last three road games and are 13-14-2 on the road.
In February, the Stars traded veteran defenseman Nicklas Grossman to the Philadelphia Flyers for 2 future draft picks, one in 2012 and one in 2013, leaving the defense roster with one less experienced player while the Stars attempt to replace Grossman with upgrades from the Texas Stars.
How does that trade help Dallas now?
As for the trade, obviously, there's no immediate improvment. The results of the Grossman deal won't affect the Stars in a positive light till draft time.
Recent 2012 upgrades to the Dallas Stars are:
Jan 1 - Jan 3: Brenden Dillon was called up and returned to the Texas Stars
Jan 14 - Jan 6: Francis Wathier called up and returned to Texas Stars
Jan 21 - Jan 24: Matt Fraser called up and returned to Texas Stars
Jan 22: Alex Goligoski extended his contract 4 years
Jan 29: Philip Larsen called up from Texas again
Feb 2: Tomas Vincour called up from Texas again
Feb 5 - 8: Adam Pardy up and down to Texas Stars
Feb 16: Ryan Garbutt called up from Texas Stars
Their combined experience might equal Grossman's, and it'll be interesting to see how much ice time our core defensemen like Trevor Daley, Stephane Robidas, and Mark Fistric get tonight, along with the newer acquisitions Sheldon Souray, Adam Pardy, Philip Larsen, and Alex Goligoski.