The Colorado Avalanche, our best pre-season friends, make their second visit to the American Airlines Center this year and play Dallas for the third and final time before the real games begin. The first meeting saw the Stars eke out a 2-1 win on AAC ice with goals from Neal and Ott and a very strong performance from Kari Lehtonen between the pipes. Lehtonen is scheduled to start and play the entire game tonight, seeking a repeat performance, but this time against a more veteran laden roster from the Avalanche.
The Stars visited Colorado on Tuesday, losing 2-1 in their only road game of the year so far. The road, of course, was a primary point of concern for the 2009-2010 Dallas Stars. They'll get one more crack away from home on Saturday in St. Louis (who pasted the Stars in the pre-season finale last year 5-0).
Are pre-season games important? We bend over backwards trying to explain why they aren't when things don't go well, so there must be some value here somewhere. Mike Heika used the phrase "dress rehearsal" yesterday on his blog, suggesting that this game was at least close to one. Crawford is unlikely to come out and say it so take it with a grain of salt.
What this will be is the first game we see the Ribeiro line and Richards line in the same game. Add Jamie Benn centering the third line and you've got something akin to what the coaching staff envisions for the season, with minor adjustments here and there. One such adjustment is Tomas Vincour, who will play in Cedar Park this year. Tonight he'll be on a line with Steve Ott and Jamie Benn. Intriguing, indeed.
I will be "live-blogging" tonight. Or tweeting. Or chatting in the GDT. Or all of the above.
Top 5 things to look for (listen for?) tonight:
1. Kari Lehtonen. Can he play a whole game after tweaking his groin this week? Can he repeat his sensational first outing against these same Avalanche?
2. Ralph and Razor. Finally you will have a Dallas broadcast to listen to tonight, should you be unable to come to the game. They will do their "dress rehearsal" tonight on KTCK 1310am The Ticket in Dallas. Last year the stream was accessible through stars.nhl.com.
3. Ott-Benn-Vincour. Drafted in the 5th round last year, Vincour has gone largely unnoticed until this September became a coming out party of sorts for him. He'll get one last chance to impress tonight and we'll look for evidence of progress from Jamie Benn at the center position. (How many faceoffs will Ott take for Benn?)
4. Attendance. Some of you may not care, but this is an area of concern for me. I love this team and I want to see people in the building. The Stars feel their team plays better in front of a full building, but the indication so far in the pre-season is that the numbers will be down. The only solution? Drag your arse down there. It's our last chance to see them until October 14th.
5. Adam Burish will get another go with Ribeiro and Morrow. That line produced two goals in their last outing. If Burish drives the net and creates space again tonight, that could be another piece of the opening night puzzle.
Lines after the jump...