Ruff and ready, Stars have had Canucks’ number


Speedy Big D hasn’t allowed Vancouver to register a big W for the past two seasons

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis (2) strips the puck from Dallas Stars centre Tyler Seguin (91).

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis (2) strips the puck from Dallas Stars centre Tyler Seguin (91).

Photograph by: Tony Gutierrez, AP

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Losing streaks and statistical oddities don’t seem to grab the attention of some athletes, who like to remind us they are focused only on the next day, the next game and the next shift.

Sometimes it appears to be a defence mechanism… you know, we don’t dwell on the negatives, bad karma and all that. Then there is Vancouver Canuck blueliner Dan Hamhuis.

Hammer, as he is called by teammates, seemed genuinely surprised to hear the Canucks have played nail to the Dallas Stars, their opponent Saturday night, for the last two seasons.

Since Lindy Ruff stepped behind the Stars’ bench, the Canucks have lost every game they have played against the boys from Big D. The streak stands at five and the combined score of the five defeats is 20-6, including 6-3 and 2-0 losses this season.

If you want to travel beyond the Ruff regime, Vancouver has lost six straight to Dallas. The Canucks’ last victory over the Stars was 4-3 in Dallas on Feb. 21, 2013. Their last win over them at Rogers Arena came March 30, 2012.

So it hasn’t gone well.

“We don’t know about these records that you guys always bring up about us and try to make stories out of them,” said Hamhuis. “We’re not concerned about that.”

They should be concerned about solving the Stars, and perhaps starting Saturday night’s game with a little more resolve than they displayed in Thursday’s dismal 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. They were clearly the second best team on the ice for two periods but the first period, especially, set the tone for what was to come.

The Canucks couldn’t get out of their own way, or zone, and were overwhelmed by a Colorado team that had played the night before in Edmonton.

Well, guess what? The Stars also played the night before in Edmonton and they are a far better offensive group than the Avalanche. In fact, the Stars are the highest scoring team in the Western Conference. Their problem is not scoring goals, it’s preventing them. Only bottom-feeding Arizona and Edmonton are worse defensively than Dallas.

The start is obviously crucial to the Canucks, who are trying to protect their second-place standing in the Pacific Division.

“Dallas is a team, I think, you have to shut down early,” noted Canuck defenceman Luca Sbisa. “You have to suck the life right out of them in the first period, the first five minutes, because they’re a team that kind of thrives on that. If they get one early, they get some confidence and, with the skill guys they have, you don’t want to give them too much confidence.”

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin lead the Stars’ offence with Jason Spezza in a supporting role. Benn had 71 points heading into the Friday outing against Edmonton while Seguin, despite missing 10 games with a knee injury, had 33 goals and 67 points prior to Friday night. Spezza had 56.

“To be honest with you, I’m not going to even really look at what’s happened in the past against Dallas,” said Canuck winger Derek Dorsett. “Obviously they play with a lot of speed and they have some big firepower up front. At this time of year, we just have to worry about our game. We have to make sure we’re ready from the start and that we’re prepared for a good Dallas hockey team because, against Colorado we weren’t.

“We have to bounce back and bring that intensity we had in the third period against Colorado right from the start. Had we played like that for 60 minutes, I think it could have been a different outcome. It seems like we’ve done that a few times this year and we just have to find a way to eliminate those games going forward.”

And they can start with the start. The Canucks have just one first-period goal in their last six games. They still managed to win four of them but they haven’t made it easy on themselves.

“The start against Colorado is something we can’t let happen again,” Hamhuis stated. “We had been good with our starts before that, I thought, and we need to take that into the Dallas game.”

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis (2) strips the puck from Dallas Stars centre Tyler Seguin (91).

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis (2) strips the puck from Dallas Stars centre Tyler Seguin (91).

Photograph by: Tony Gutierrez, AP

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