Dallas Stars @ Tampa Bay Lightning: Knowing thy opponent

 

Dallas Stars (19-17-7)
@ Tampa Bay Lighning (14-21-10)

Monday, January 19, 2009, 6:30 PM CST
St. Pete Times Forum
Television: FS-SW | Radio: WBAP

 

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The Dallas Stars look to head into the All Star break on a positive note, embarking on a two game road trip to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. The Stars are coming off a 3-2 shootout victory Saturday afternoon over the Los Angeles Kings, and are looking to continue their push for a playoff spot. Of note, the Stars are playing in their fourth game in seven days, all of which have gone into overtime.

The Stars will also be facing some familiar players Monday night: Mike Smith, Jeff Halpern and Jussi Jokinen were traded last season for Brad Richards (and Johan Holmquivst) and will play their former teams for the first time since the trade deadline.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning started the season with Barry Melrose as coach, an experiment that didn't last very long. The Lightning have struggled with consistency all season and are attempting to work themselves back into the race after a disastrous first month. Mike Smith has had a decent year in his first season as starting goaltender yet the Lightning have lacked the scoring ability to overcome a deficiency in depth on defense.

It's rumored that the Lightning could be is selling mode once again this season, looking to rebuild a team that is crippled by large contracts for a few players. It's doubtful the Stars are in the market for any of the forwards the Lightning are willing to part with, yet this is a first hand look at some of the best players who may be dealt at the trade deadline.

Leading scorer: Martin St. Louis - 12G , 27A , 44 Pts

Projected goaltender: Mike Smith - 11-16-9 , 2.50 GAA , .919 Sv%


More after the jump.

 

Mark Stepneski has a great article about Mike Smith's play in Tampa after he was traded. Smith talks about the difference between backup and starter:

"It's a dream come true," said Smith, whose Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the Dallas Stars Monday night at the St. Pete Times Forum. "I think I said it over and over - the hardest position in hockey is to be a backup goalie. You get a chance to play every couple weeks and if you perform you don't get a chance for another couple weeks, and if you falter they are nervous to put you in there.

"I've taken the ball and run with it here. I think it's easier to play all the time and not worry about when your next start is going to be. It's been easier for me to transfer from a guy who didn't play a lot to a guy who gets to play quite a bit."

The DMN takes a look at hoe familiar the Lightning will be to the Stars tonight:

Stars center Brad Richards and Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier have been teammates at different levels of play since they were 14, and will compete against each other in a game for the first time.

Stars goalie Marty Turco and his former backup, the Lightning's Mike Smith, forged a relationship that is "as close as you can get in two years," according to Turco, and will go head-to-head for the first time as opponents.

And Stars coach Dave Tippett will square off against former teammate Rick Tocchet, who took over behind the bench for the Lighthing this season.

ASP Game Preview. | NHL.com Preview | DMN Preview

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