Two years ago, these two teams combined for perhaps the most exciting first-round playoff series I've ever seen, led by incredible goaltending at each end. Marty Turco and Roberto Luongo combined to put on a show in net unlike we've seen in a very long time. While the Stars didn't win the series, Turco's performance finally shut up the detractors that claimed he couldn't perform in the playoffs. One year later, Turco would help lead the Stars to the Western Conference Finals.
This season, both of these goaltenders are off to a shaky start. Turco was merely mediocre in the Stars first two games, both shootout losses, and backup Alex Auld started in the third game of the season. Luongo was downright horrible in the Canucks' first three games, allowing 11 goals with just a .819 save percentage. He did bounce back, stopping 26-of-27 shots in Vancouver's 7-1 drubbing of Montreal, but it will be interesting to see if that was just a fluke or whether he's truly gotten back on track.
After the jump, a look at the line combos for the Stars and some injury news that will have a direct impact on the outcome of the game.
The Dallas Stars:
The Stars are coming off an uplifting 5-2 win over Calgary on Friday night, that was by far the most complete effort by Dallas this season. Alex Auld was solid in net in his debut with his new team and the Stars got goals by five different players from all four lines. After some inconsistent effort in the first two games, the Stars took the opportunity to take advantage of a tired Flames team playing their third game in four nights.
Marty Turco will be back in net for the Stars, after sitting during Friday's game and taking some time to refocus and work on some of the fundamentals he was struggling with early in the season. Not exactly what you want to see from your starting goaltender just two games into the season, but luckily the Stars have the opportunity to give Turco some time with Auld playing well as his backup.
Jere Lehtinen will decide sometime this morning whether he's ready to play tonight, but all indications are that he's healthy and looking great at practice. While Lehtinen won't make the Stars a drastically different team than they've been in the first three games the addition of a right handed shot among the forwards should make this a more balanced team, especially on the power play.
Here are the proposed lines for tonight, with Fabian Brunnstrom the odd man out if Lehtinen can play.
Player to watch:
Jamie Benn - The 20-year old rookie has looked more comfortable in each game, and against the Flames showed off some nifty puck handling skills. He's been solid on both ends of the ice, and is poised to get his first NHL goal sooner than later.
The Vancouver Canucks:
After starting the season 0-3-0, the Canucks got back on track in a big way with a 7-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night. Six different Canucks had goals in the victory, including two from Henrik Sedin. Vancouver is well rested after having three days off before tonight's game, and won't play again until Friday.
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver's best scoring threat and a crucial part of the Sedin Twins' magic, is out tonight with what's being called "deep heel bruise". It's unknown at this point what the exact nature of the injury is, nor how long he'll be out. Vancouver has recalled Guillaume Desbiens to fill the spot, but right now the exact line combinations are a bit uncertain. Steve Bernier is a good possibility to move up on the top line, according to Nuck's Misconduct.
[UPDATE by Brandon Worley, 10/11/09 2:06 PM EDT ] Daniel Sedin has a broken foot and will be out 4-6 weeks.
Player to watch:
Alexandre Burrows - While most will be focusing on Daniel Sedin's absence and injury, Burrows is a player who can step up and be just as dangerous. Two goals so far this season, and he leads the Canucks with 19 shots on goal in four games.