Stars at Canucks
9 p.m. Thursday, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, B.C.
Radio: KTCK/1310 AM and 96.7 FM
Records: Stars 27-32-10, 64 points; Canucks 28-32-9, 65 pts.
About the Stars: It’s about time to start planning ahead, like toward next season. The Stars begin the night 13 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, with 13 games to play, and only three of those remaining teams (New Jersey, Arizona and Colorado) have fewer points than Dallas. These teams played a pair of games in November, when both had brighter hopes, with the Stars winning 2-1 at home and losing 5-4 in overtime in Vancouver. The Stars have lost three in a row and given up 17 goals in those games, including seven — by seven different Oilers — in Tuesday’s game, prompting coach Lindy Ruff to say afterward, “That might be the worst game I have coached as a Dallas Star.”
About the Canucks: Vancouver is in the same leaky boat as the Stars, sitting a point ahead of Dallas, with both teams rowing with one oar toward the postseason. This ends a five-game homestand in which they are winless so far, though two games went to overtime. The Canucks have lost their last seven at home and nine of 10 at Rogers Arena. One bright spot has been the play of Markus Granlund, a 23-year-old acquired from Calgary last season. Granlund has 19 goals, including two in Monday’s 6-3 loss to Boston after missing the previous game with food poisoning. Bo Horvat, another young star at age 21, leads the team in goals (20) and points (46) but has just two goals in the last 11 games. Olympic goalie Ryan Miller (17-21-6), who started the year 1-7, has fallen on hard times again with just three wins in his last 17 starts.