Before yesterday's game, Mike Heika spent a bit of time discussing potential line combinations for the Stars:
I think Ruff likes to juggle, so we'll see. Eakin is definitely in the mix for the No. 2 center spot, but so is Horcoff, and Peverley might be a good option when he is healthy. I think they could shuffle their centers a lot. Chiasson had quick chemistry with Whitney last season, so I think they will try to revisit that at some point. Again, though, this really could change game to game once the regular season starts. [Sports Day DFW]
Regardless of how it shakes out during the season, early returns are promising. In last night's game, the top line of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin - skating at times with Erik Cole and at time with Alex Chiasson - showed the same dominance exhibited in the first pre-season game. And on the second line, Cody Eakin and Ray Whitney combined for the game's first goal. Add in the powerplay goal scored by Jamie Benn, another one for the new look four-forward powerplay unit, and the offense is showing some promise. Or the top two lines anyway. But will it continue?
Also, browsing the box score, Valeri Nichushkin, while not getting his name on the score sheet, was second on the team in hits with four. I don't know what exactly to take away from that, seeing as I wasn't able to watch any of those four hits, but I like the idea of a big, fast, talented, young forward throwing his body around. For some reason.
All in all, barring a forgettable 14 seconds for Christopher Nilstorp in the 3rd period, we'll call it a success.
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Opening the links with some breaking news! Before it's even news. I know. The internet is crazy sometimes. But apparently Jamie Benn is or was or could possibly be named the new captain of the Stars! [Sports Day DFW]
Lindy Ruff on transitioning to the Stars and skates in the crease. [ESPN]
The 'Under Pressure' series shines the spotlight on Loui Erikkson. [NBC Sports]
So after Seattle get their franchise, let's give one to Baltimore. Just because, well, this beats throwing an octopus onto the ice. [Washington Post]
Following on from yesterday's article on rule changes regarding fighting, here's a surprisingly insightful look at the changes and the declining role of enforcers. [Sporting News NHL]
I know you've all been waiting with bated breath. Well here they are! ESPN's infallible ranking of forwards in the NHL! [ESPN]
And because the ESPN staff dared to disagree with the 'experts' on the panel, here are their picks for over- and under-rated players from the rankings. Which I think pretty much includes every name on the list. [ESPN]