Descriptions of the Dallas Stars first period against the Blues on Saturday night ranged from "discombobulated" all the way to profanity laden tirades not fit for re-telling on a nice family web site such as this one. I did find one good description of it and it comes not from the Stars, but from Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher:
"From the beginning to the end we were just off in every aspect in our game. Offense, defense, hitting, we were never first on pucks and when we were we just coughed it up or gave it away. Guys were falling everywhere," Boucher said.[TBO.com]
That sounds about right, except he isn't talking about the Stars, of course. He's talking about the Tampa Bay Lightning in their game against the Florida Panthers on Saturday where they lost 6-0. Still, the description fits what I was feeling in the arena when the speedy Blues jumped all over the Stars in the first 4 minutes of the game and took a 2-0 lead. The difference of course is that the Stars clawed their way back into it and won the skills competition.
We should have two very motivated hockey teams tonight, eager to improve upon their Saturday efforts.
Oh and Brad Richards returns to Tampa Bay. Again. "Blah blah blah. Conn Smythe, Stanley Cup, Lecavalier, etc..." There, I'm glad we got that out of the way before we continue on...
Will Lecavalier play? Which former Star goaltender will mind the net for Tampa? Where will Aaron Gagnon play? Follow the jump...
The Stars are 4-0-0 to start the season. It's their best start in 4 years, Brandon Bibb tells me. How are they doing it? That's the object of some debate around the league. "They're not really that good" seems to be the consensus. Maybe not, but they've supported each other as a team and found ways to win games.
The Stars allowed seven goals in two road games as opposed to only three goals in two home games. That's an early trend that we're keeping an eye on. If the Stars surrender four tonight after giving up only three in two home games then we'll have to start talking about it a little more.
Jamie Benn seems fine. He skated Saturday, Sunday and today but they feel they have time to be as careful as they can (or they're not telling us something). Either way,
Fabian Brunnstrom Aaron Gagnon will get the start tonight in Benn's stead and the lines will look, says Mike Heika, something like this...
Krys Barch, apparent favorite boy of Marc Crawford last year will not play, and didn't play much on Saturday either. (6:46. Ouch)
Dallas had some trouble with the Lightning's speed (just like the Blues) in the pre-season. Expect a hard first ten minutes or so. The Stars will likely rely heavily on Kari Lehtonen again as the trend of getting badly out-shot continues.
Tampa Bay was slightly embarrassed on Saturday night getting beat 6-0 in...whatever city the Panthers play. Sunrise?(Incidentally, the Stars play in that building on Thursday. Don't overlook the Panthers. Apparently they'll put six on you if you're not careful.)
They had impressive road wins in Philadelphia and Montreal before falling to Florida, so they definitely know they are better than that and will be buzzing tonight as they try to right the ship.
Vinny Lecavalier took a slapshot off his hand and is doubtful for tonight's game due to some soreness. That's certainly a break for Dallas if he cannot play but the Lightning still have Stamkos, St. Louis and Simon Gagne not to mention some other youngsters who can play. They're still very dangerous. They say a team takes on the personality of it's general manager and Stevie Y is getting a lot of acclaim for his role these days.
Mike Smith, former Stars goaltender traded away in the Richards deal, will start in net to face his former mates. His save percentage on the young season is a very so-so .890.