Gameday Preview: Nashville Predators @ Dallas Stars (7:30p CDT)


Next Game

Nashville Predators
@ Dallas Stars

Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009, 7:30 PM CDT
American Airlines Center

Local TV: FS-SW
Radio: KTCK The Ticket

Opponent's Blog: On The Forecheck

Complete Coverage >


Let's try this again, shall we?

The Stars have another shot at the Nashville Predators, as Dallas plays just it's second game at home this season. In the home opener we saw flashes of brilliance from this Stars team, but also saw the beginnings of issues that have hurt this team in every game so far this season. The crowd was loud, boisterous and as into it as I've seen a opening night home crowd in a long time. Let's see if the Stars can pull it together and give the home fans something to cheer for.

Full preview after the jump.

The Dallas Stars:

The Stars have spent the past few days working heavily on special teams play; spending nearly two hours yesterday focusing on their much maligned penalty kill. It's going to be Marty Turco in net again, who looks to continue to improve after a less-than stellar start to his season. For our in-depth breakdown of the of Turco and the defense against Vancouver, check out our Film Review.

Steve Ott is out at least a week with a strained oblique muscle, which is bound to hurt the special teams that is already floundering. Ott was the Stars' best faceoff option in the defensive zone, and so far this season no other center has come close to his percentage numbers. Good news though, as both Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards greatly improved on faceoffs against Vancouver.

According to Mike Heika, here are the lines we're expected to see against Nashville with Steve Ott out and Mark Fistric sitting. I think the Wandell line with Sutherby and Brunnstrom can really be dangerous, but Crawford was quick to shake things up on the third and fourth lines. We'll see.

Neal-Richards-Eriksson
Morrow-Ribeiro-Benn
Sutherby-Wandell-Brunnstrom
Barch-Petersen-Lehtinen

Grossman-Robidas
Skrastins-Daley
Woywitka-Niskanen

Jamie Benn got his first goal of the season on Sunday after numerous chances in the first three games, but his teammates and coaches think he still needs to shoot the puck more.

"It's intimidating, I know it is," Morrow said. "But I think you learn after a while that [shooting the puck is] a big part of your job."

Morrow contends his line with Mike Ribeiro and Benn would be even more impressive if Benn, 20, would start using his talent a little more.

"It's not easy," Benn said. "You just don't think you should come in and start shooting. They've talked to me about it, so I know I have to do it more. They're so good at getting me the puck, so I need to be ready to shoot it."

"For a young guy, he's got a lot of poise with the puck," Morrow said. "He's strong in the corners, and I don't know if I've seen a better release. Obviously, Hullie had one of the all-time greatest, but Jamie Benn has got a pretty quick release and a pretty heavy shot.

"He's not really comfortable enough to use it as much as we'd like, but when he gets a little selfish and starts throwing pucks at the net, I think we're going to see a lot more go in for him."

Benn has an incredibly quick release and I think he could really start to put up some big numbers once he starts putting the puck on the net. He has 11 official shots on net through four games.

The Nashville Predators:

For a preview on the Predators, here's Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck:

Outside of the early portion of the season opener in Dallas, and the 3rd period of their next game against Colorado, the Predators have floundered offensively so far, with only 6 goals in four games. All of the team's goals, in fact, have come from the top line of Jason Arnott (3), Patric Hornqvist (2), and Steve Sullivan (1). Fans are getting frustrated with David Legwand and Martin Erat, the two highest-paid Preds, who have yet to tally even a single assist between them. J.P. Dumont, who left that season opener after getting hit by Stephane Robidas, will not make the trip but hopes to return to the lineup soon.

It's not all bad for Nashville, however, as their 2-2 record would indicate. The goaltending has generally been quite good, and Dan Ellis (who starts tonight) had an excellent training camp. The top defensive duo of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter have been stellar, and fans are really excited about rookie center Colin Wilson, who made a strong NHL debut Monday against Edmonton.

After outshooting the Oilers 41-20 yet losing 6-1, head coach Barry Trotz vowed to split up the Legwand/Erat combo in a bid to shake up the forward lines. Against the Stars, all eyes will be on those two, to see if they show a goal-scoring hunger that has been lacking so far.

Here are the proposed lines with J.P Dumont out and Erat and Legwand separated.

Sullivan - Arnott - Hornqvist

Santorelli - Legwand Jones

Erat - Wilson Ward

Smithson Guite - Belak

Suter - Weber

Hamhuis - Klein

Bouillon Laakso

For an excellent preview of today's game, check out Dirk's Preview.

Key Injuries:

Dallas: C Steve Ott (oblique) and C Mike Modano (ribs) are out.

Nashville: RW Jordin Tootoo (groin) and LW J.P. Dumont (head) are out.

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