For the seasoned observers of all things stick and puck, and with advanced statistics being what they are today, many now watch the game observing the chess match that ensues from the opening puck drop, as coaches pay special attention to zone starts and head-to-head matchups in attempts to put their pieces in optimal situations.
The Stars had been hamstrung a bit in this department without a full complement of centers, but the Stars' head coach knows now that his lineup gives opposing coaches a thing or two to consider with Roy and Benn back in the fold.
Glen Gulutzan appeared on the Bob and Dan radio show Tuesday afternoon while on a bus in Denver to the airport, and talked about the offensive struggles with so many pieces in and out of the lineup early on, and the advantages now afforded by having Roy back in the lineup...
"Certainly you don't want a crutch. We needed to put more pucks and bodies toward the net when we didn't have our guys in. But getting Derek Roy back makes the opposition now... when you've got Benn and you've got Derek in your lineup first time together, it puts a little different spin for other the coaches and other teams and how they're going to play you. If they tie up one it can free up the other.
We just need as a group to put more pucks and bodies at the net and win some more battles. Once we start doing those things on a consistent basis, we're going to score more goals."
"If they tie up one it can free up the other," he said. With only one game to pull from it's hard to say how that will pan out. Colorado couldn't shut down the Benn line, and certainly you'd think that's where the focus would be, but did the Roy/Eriksson duo look dangerous with, perhaps, some of the focus taken off of them?
Not yet, and that's something to keep an eye on tonight, and in general moving forward.
- The Texas Stars were up comfortably against Rockford last night but wound up with a shootout loss. Jack Campbell replaced Cristopher Nilstorp in the third, and then took Texas ELEVEN rounds deep in a shootout before taking the loss. [Hundred Degree Hockey]
- You don't hear about "broken knuckles" very often in the NHL. Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff's got one after Monday night and Oiler fans have varying degrees of concern about his absence. [Copper & Blue]
- Mark has a great run down of stats ahead of tonight's game in his "statistical tidbit" section of his preview. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Bob Sturm of Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket fame likes that all of these youngsters are getting significant ice time this season, and runs them down one-by-one at Fox Sports Southwest. [FSSW.com]
- "Behind the horse head: Why one fan cheered against Roberto Luongo in an equine mask" - The title of that one just kind of speaks for itself. [Puck Daddy]
- "The bottom line is we have to score more goals," says Taylor Hall in this generic CBS Sports preview. "Their goalie can only make so many saves for so long before we start scoring." That would be Kari Lehtonen tonight, and hope he's wrong. [CBS Sports]
- Mike Heika wonders if there could possibly be an unexpected little change to the defensive pairings tonight involving Philip Larsen. But who comes out? [DMN]
- B.J. Crombeen got knocked the blank out by Zac Rinaldo of the Philadelphia Flyers last night, and you can watch it here at SB Nation's NHL hub. Crombeen, a former Star, saw his time end with the Blues end last year and now finds himself on a pretty good Lightning team, if he's right in the head after this one. Did Rinaldo swing a couple of times too many after connecting the big blow? [SB Nation]
- It could be just me, but I continue to follow the story of Mike Ribeiro in Washington with much fascination. Last night he scored a goal on a single shot and ended up -1 for the game - Their 8th loss in 10 tries this year. Alex Ovechkin's shifts (1:02 average) are making Ribs' (0:57) look downright small. [Japers Rink] calls him "the best player on the team".
- Mike Heika explains why you should fear the Edmonton special teams tonight. [DMN]
- NHL players in Sochi next year is nearly a done deal. So get ready for more distraction from the team's better players from day one of training camp next year, and a 16 day gap in the schedule compressing things elsewhere. [Pro Hockey Talk]