Minas Panagiotakis/Icon SMI)
The Dallas Stars moved back into first in the Pacific Division this past week, largely on the efforts of a trio of the team’s offensive stars. Given the of the importance of the games at this time of the season, it only makes sense to acknowledge the trio’s efforts via the three stars of the week selections for the week of March 23-29.
First Star: Michael Ryder, Right Wing, Dallas Stars – The Stars needed a star to emerge in their top six and, in the last two months, Ryder has been that star. He had three goals and two assists in three games last week, however his 30 points in 29 games and +16 rating in February and March are the more striking numbers. Ryder has registered a point in 22 of his last 29 games. His 35 goals are a career high and his six game-winners place him just one shy of his personal best.
Second Star: Mike Ribeiro, Center, Dallas Stars – Ribeiro posted five points in three games, a pair of wins and a 5-4 loss to Calgary on Monday. His line scored all three goals in a 3-1 win over Edmonton Wednesday. Ribeiro scored the game-winner and earned the primary assist on both Ryder goals.
Third Star: Jamie Benn, Forward, Dallas Stars – Benn put up four goals in two games against Calgary. On the week, he generated 14 shots on net in three games, a stat indicative not only of his offensive energy level, but his overall contribution to the tempo and energy of Dallas’s contests this week.
Pacific Division Notes
The Weekend Ahead
Anaheim rolls into Phoenix Saturday (the Coyotes’ only contest) and then concludes their home schedule for the season against Edmonton Sunday. Dallas hosts San Jose Saturday in a crucial four-point matchup, which will be the only game this weekend for both clubs. Los Angeles will wrap up a road trip with visits to Edmonton Friday and Minnesota Saturday.
San Jose’s loss last night to Phoenix dropped them to ninth in the Western Conference. They remain in a points tie with Los Angeles, but the Kings currently have the eighth playoff seed by way of one extra regulation win. The Sharks have also played one more game than the Kings.
Meanwhile, Phoenix and Dallas are also in a points tie, with the Coyotes sitting in seventh and the Stars in the division leader’s three slot. Dallas has three more regulation wins and two more shootout wins than Phoenix, whose campaign has been heavy on overtime and shootout losses. The Stars also have a game in hand on the Coyotes.
Team Notes: The Coyotes blanked the Sharks 2-0 in a huge rebound performance from their extended layoff. Radim Vrbata scored twice in his return and Mike Smith made 38 saves for his fifth shutout of the season … Ray Whitney’s two assists carried him to 999 career points … Phoenix took four out of six meetings from the Sharks this year, including three Mike Smith shutouts.