Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff says the only thing he's worried about heading into a matchup with Buffalo tonight is his team's 1-4-0 road record.
That is well, because the Stars are walking into a bit of a sticky situation tonight.
Buffalo is a team that is 0-6-1 at home and quite due for a win there. They welcome back, somewhat awkwardly, their former head coach of 15 years. Steve Ott will try to make sure his former team knows he's there, and vice-versa. An unspecified number of Dallas Stars have the flu, notably Alex Chiasson.
Then throw on top of all of that the attention grabber of the Sabres moving their best player for a first, a second and Matt Moulson to the New York Islanders, snapping a listless group to attention on the day of the Stars' arrival.
So there's a lot going on here.
On the ice the Sabres might be 2-10-1 but they allow fewer goals than the Stars do (3.00 versus 2.85), take fewer penalties, and are better penalty killers. They allow more shots per game, by a hair, at 35.7 against versus Dallas' 35.4.
They've played the West well and have kept things close in losing 2-1 to Minnesota, 2-1 to Chicago and 4-2 to Colorado. The Stars come to them as lesser foes than those, so they should by no means be taken lightly.
As for what the trade means for tonight, it's actually very little. Moulson should slide right in on that top line where Vanek was and, though he may not be the same quality in the long run, for a single night he's every bit as dangerous.
Recall the four-goal night Moulson hung on the Stars at American Airlines Center in 2011. He's quite dangerous.
Their lineup, better for the absence of the suspended John Scott, should look something like this:
Meanwhile Lindy Ruff is playing shuffle the defense at morning skate, obfuscating his true intentions. Or maybe he just doesn't know yet.
D-pairs are all scrambled. They did not run the same D-pair twice. I'll ask what the thinking is, but we might not find out til 2nite— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) October 28, 2013
So we'll check back.
Lines run at skate look the same and everyone was accounted for, so we'll see what the energy level is like among the infected.
The switch of Cole and Peverley seems to have stuck so keep an eye the effects, positive (for Nichushkin perhaps?) and negative (for Benn and Seguin? Though Cole was really good with them in the preseason).
The assumption is Kari Lehtonen in net and then Dan Ellis tomorrow, but Montreal is by a wide margin the tougher place to play, so could we see that reversed? Or with two days off Wednesday and Thursday will he be tasked with both?
Updates: Razor says Ott is questionable for Sabres. Connauton and Travis Morin stayed out late and appear to be the scratches for now.