Gameday Preview: Florida Panthers @ Dallas Stars (7:35pm CDT)


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Florida Panthers (2-7-1)
@ Dallas Stars (6-2-4)

Friday, Oct 30, 2009, 7:35 PM CDT
American Airlines Center

Local TV: FSSW
Radio: KTCK The Ticket

Opponent's Blog: Litter Box Cats

Complete Coverage >


The Stars will try once again to come out and play a complete game on home ice, something they've had trouble doing this season. Yet there are some good signs still; the Stars are coming off two straight wins for the first time since last season and showed some resilience against Toronto in working out a win in a game in which they didn't have there best stuff.

The Stars are also locked in an early-season race for the top of the Pacific Division as Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Jose are all off to good starts as well. Los Angeles lost last night to Vancouver and San Jose will be playing the surprising Colorado Avalanche tonight*. The Stars have a good chance to head into Saturday tied for first in the division.

*It is amazing what has transpired early in the 2009-2010 season; teams that most thought to be a few years away have become some the NHL's most impressive teams. Colorado, Phoenix and Los Angeles look to be the real deal, the only question is how long they can sustain this level of play. Still, good to see some new faces start to stake their claim at the top of the conference.

Injury notes and a look at the Panthers after the jump.

The Dallas Stars:

Francis Wathier was sent back down to the AHL last night, intimating that the Stars will play Fistric at forward tonight as they get ready for Steve Ott's return tomorrow against Nashville.

Jere Lehtinen and Mike Modano are skating with the team in practice and are close to returning, but it's unknown whether that will be tonight or tomorrow.

So with Wathier back in Austin and signs pointing to Modano and Lehtinen out again tonight, here's what lines could look like tonight:

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

Obviously with Fistric sliding up to forward, Jeff Woywitka will be in as well. Also, let's commend Mark Fistric for doing something that is EXTREMELY difficult to do, as he's constantly switching from defenseman to forward. This isn't a rec league, and trying to go back and forth from one position to the other has to be mentally taxing. Fistric hasn't been lighting it up, but he's been far from a sore thumb at forward either. His ability to slide back and forth has been highly valuable to the Stars so far this season.

 

The Florida Panthers:

It's obvious what's gone wrong with the Panthers so far this season: they can't score and their goaltending has been horrible. Scoring just a bit over two goals a game while allowing four is far from the recipe of success any team likes to build.

They're signing of Scott Clemmenssen, who was supposed to replace the departed Craig Anderson (that has to hurt) hasn't paid off yet, as he's appeared in just two games so far this season with a 3.87 GAA and a woeful .867 save percentage.

Dmitry Kulikov, who was a player that Stars fans had targeted headed into the NHL draft, looks like he's going to stick with the Panthers the rest of the season. The rookie defenseman has four assists in ten games, with a minus-8 rating.

Keep an eye on the fact that Florida is allowing nearly 40 shots a game, while the Stars have shown an ability to pepper the goaltender if given the opportunity.

 

Injuries:

Dallas: C Steve Ott (suspension) is out. RW Jere Lehtinen (intercostal muscle) and C Mike Modano (ribs) are questionable.

Florida: LW David Booth (concussion), RW Radek Dvorak (knee) and LW Nick Tarnasky (face) are out.

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