Stars shining after moving top talent
Canucks notebook: Dallas catches fire after unloading captain and Jagr; Bieksa day-to-day and Higgins back skating
The Dallas Stars celebrate after Cory Schneider #35 of the Vancouver Canucks gave up a goal against Vernon Fiddler #38 of the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on April 18, 2013 in Dallas.
Photograph by: Ronald Martinez, Getty Images
DALLAS — DALLAS – The Dallas Stars' mistake at the National Hockey League trading deadline was dealing away four of their best players. If they'd traded six, surely they'd be undefeated since then.
Instead, Thursday's 5-1 hammering of the Vancouver Canucks left the Stars 6-1 since the upheaval before the April 3 deadline that included trading captain Brenden Morrow and leading scorer Jaromir Jagr.
This is one of the most surprising routes ever run by a NHL team in a playoff race.
“I think the media plays up whether you're a buyer or seller (at the deadline),” Dallas winger Eric Nystrom said before facing the Canucks. “But we're all in this league because we want to win and are competitive and good players. We obviously want to prove people wrong. It has been unique, for sure.”
Another veteran, Vern Fiddler, said: “Ever since the deadline, the team has come together and played hard. Obviously, the initial reaction when you lose a couple of your key guys is: 'Well, they're giving up.' But we had a team meeting and said we've got to keep working hard. We still had some highly-skilled guys like Ray Whitney and Jamie Benn, and everyone in the lineup has pitched in. I really believe we're going to make the playoffs.”
The Stars inched Thursday within two points of the final playoff spot, although eighth-place Columbus was playing later at Los Angeles.
“Our job as a coaching staff was to keep this group together and make sure the energy around the room and around the rink was always positive and upbeat,” Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. “That was our message and the leaders in that room kind of took things over.”
ZACK TRACK: Even when he tries to do the right thing, it turns out wrong these days for struggling Canuck Zack Kassian. The sophomore winger forced a pass on a 2-on-1 rush that led to Cody Eakin's counter-attack goal, then a few minutes later passed to where he thought linemate Andrew Ebbett would be but instead set up a point shot for Dallas defenceman Brenden Dillon. Ray Whitney scored on the rebound.
“We were both thinking opposite,” Kassian said of his mistake with Ebbett. “I was the low guy and thought he was the winger, but he thought I had time with the puck so he went back to the centre.”
Kassian has one goal in 28 games. He said his confidence “is good, but it's frustrating not scoring and stuff.”
INJURY UPDATE: Canuck coach Alain Vigneault said a re-evaluation Wednesday in Vancouver of Kevin Bieksa confirmed the defenceman is out only “day to day” with a “lower body” injury.
Bieksa missed seven games earlier this season with a groin injury, but Vigneault said “I swear on my daughters” that the injury Bieksa suffered Monday in Nashville is not to his groin. Maybe it's the groin injury's first cousin, a hip flexor.
Vigneault also said winger Chris Higgins (knee) had begun skating and should return before the playoffs, and that defenceman Chris Tanev (ankle) may be ready for the start of the Stanley Cup tournament, but not before.
KEEP ON ROLLING: Canuck goalie Cory Schneider, who gave up five goals on 30 shots, said he likes the rhythm of playing every couple of nights and will have a few days to rest after the regular season.
He said it's Vigneault's decision which goalie plays, although Schneider clearly doesn't want any more games off after Roberto Luongo played two of the previous four before Thursday.
“I like where my energy level is,” Schneider said. “I think everyone on the team can feel that extra playoff mode kicking in. Sometimes the playoffs are like this – playing every other day. I just have to prepare for anything.”
The Canucks' final four games are spaced over eight nights, starting Saturday in Vancouver against the Red Wings.
LINE DANCE: Depth defenceman Derek Joslin, recalled by the Canucks from the American League after Bieksa's injury, did not dress against the Stars. . . Fourth-line winger Steve Pinizzotto, pointless in nine games and a healthy scratch in five of the last six, replaced Tom Sestito and had three shots and five hits despite a team-low 7:28 of ice time. . . Alex Edler and Mason Raymond were minus-three for the Canucks. . . A tweaked second-line of Ryan Kesler between Derek Roy and Jannik Hansen finished plus-one, as did defenceman Jason Garrison
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