Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Nashville Predators (7:00pm CST)

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

The Stars get their first taste of Shea Weber and his Predators this season tonight at Bridgestone Arena.

Enough of the Chicago Blackhawks- The Dallas Stars finally play their first of five with new division rival Nashville Predators this evening at Bridgestone Arena.

The Stars, 8-2-1 over their last 11 road games, will try to recapture some of that magic after a disappointing 6-2 home loss to Chicago Tuesday night.

Dallas faces four games in six days, all against Central Division opponents with crucial points up for grabs. Keeping Nashville and Winnipeg beneath them and inching closer to the now human Colorado Avalanche (6-7-0 in their last 13) should provide motivation in heaps.

The Predators enter off a big win at Madison Square Garden. Henrik Lundqvist afforded them three tallies [and an empty netter], unlike his treatment of the Stars in Dallas. Like Dallas, however, the Predators can't seem to get it done often enough in their own barn.

"Home has always been a safe haven for us, but lately it hasn't been," coach Barry Trotz told the Tennessean Wednesday. "We've been a little more meat-and-potatoes and getting it done on the road. We've just got to start getting it done at home."

The puck drops just after 7:00pm CST on Fox Sports Southwest.

The Stars:

Injury report: Vernon Fiddler has been skating and his upper-body injury is not as bad as first thought. He could return as soon as Colorado on Monday night.

Antoine Roussel now has five goals and seven points in his last seven games- But where will he play?

Ryan Garbutt and Roussel started on a line with Cody Eakin against the Hawks Tuesday night, but before the first period was over Whitney and Chiasson had reclaimed those spots. Garbutt and Roussel mostly saw time with Dustin Jeffrey.

Nichushkin and Rich Peverley then traded spots, leaving the rookie with Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole once more.

So it's a guess right now as the line carousel continues to turn. I'll throw caution to the wind and put this on paper:

Benn-Seguin-Peverley/Nichsuhkin
Whitney-Eakin-Chiasson
Peverley/Nichushkin-Horcoff-Cole
Roussel-Jeffrey-Garbutt

Jeffrey had some noticeable legs and positive plays against Chicago, I thought, so I would expect to see him remain in the lineup- But we'd enjoy getting a look at Colton Sceviour there, there's no doubt. We'll update after morning skate.

Dallas is 2-5-3 against the Central so far this season.

Kari Lehtonen should start in net. Ruff said it wasn't fair to him on Tuesday night, and that he saw an opportunity to give Kari some rest and pulled him, hoping to spark his team.

From Stars PR: "Thursday's game between Dallas and Nashville features two of the eight 2013 NHL Draft picks who have appeared in an NHL contest this season. Dallas forward VALERI NICHUSHKIN (10th overall) is tied for second in points among 2013 Draft picks (4-11=15) - only Nathan McKinnon from Colorado has earned more points. Nashville defenseman Seth Jones (4th overall), ranks fifth among 2013 Draft picks with 10 points (3-7=10)."

The Preds:

6-6-2 at home, the Predators' problems are the same as they ever were: They don't score enough. Eight times they've been held to two or fewer at home and they've treated their crowd to four just thrice. More often than not, however, even without Rinne, they still hold teams to two or fewer.

Get to three tonight and the chances of taking a point or two are pretty good.

Nashville has lost four straight at home and five of their last six. They've gone 0-for-15 on the power play at home over their last six games after a hot 7-for-22 start. Don't be the team that reignites it.

The Predators, like the Stars, are rolling with a very young defensive group. Josh Cooper at the Tennessean talks about their evolution-

There have been a lot of learning, meetings and ice-time variations as the season has gone on.

For example, earlier in the year, 22-year-old defenseman Ryan Ellis found himself protected at home from the tougher matchups as he got up to speed.

For the first month of the season, rookie Seth Jones found himself on the first pairing and playing big minutes. Part of it had to do with Roman Josi's concussion, but the first-round pick's lowest total was 18:35 in his NHL debut. The last game of the month he played 30:19.

Since then, as Jones' play has waxed and waned, the Predators have cut back on his minutes in order to give him a chance to go against some easier competition. In his past two games, Jones has played 9:29 and 12:42 respectively. [Tennessean]

They'll roll something like this:

Nystrom-Fisher-Stalberg
Wilson-Cullen-Bourque
Spaling-Legwand-Hornqvist
Clune-Guastad-Hendricks

Weber-Josi
Bartley-Klein
Jones-Ellis

The Stars reunite with Eric Nystrom for the first time tonight. That's all I have to say about that.

Pekka Rinne is still sidelined with that hip infection/injury and the Predators had been rolling with 22-year-old Czech Marek Mazanec to varying degrees of apparent failure. 27-year-old journeyman Carter Hutton stopped 28 of 29 in New York on Tuesday, so one would have to guess they'll roll with him tonight at home.

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