Friday night's game in San Antonio didn't feature much in the way of star power or front-line players, to the dismay of those attending. Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Sergei Gonchar and Ray Whitney stayed home, as did Kari Lehtonen. Valeri Nichushkin was there, but by most accounts has played too many days in the last 10.
That creates opportunities for others to step up and generate the lion's share of the chances, and that's exactly what Antoine Roussel did in recording two goals and an assist while setting Twitter "a twitter" with a simple question:
Who gets left out of the top nine when the team is healthy?
Benn, Seguin and Cole seem to be a lock to continue on. Cody Eakin, Ray Whitney, Shawn Horcoff, Alex Chiasson and Valeri Nichushkin all figure to comprise the second and third lines - And then there's Roussel, whose tenacity on the forecheck, premium skating, and versatile game also figure to play a part.
Rich Peverley is going to need one of those spots as well.
So it looks like a game of musical chairs. Alex Chiasson or Nichushkin could be the odd men out, but a fourth line with either combining with the likes of Ryan Garbutt, who has also had a good camp, and Vernon Fiddler starts to have a look of quality about it as well.
It's one of those nice problems to have, and it gives Lindy Ruff options and the ability to roll four lines. Roussel was one of the better skaters in the scrimmages and his energy is infectious. If he matches his pro-rated point pace from last season he could end up in the 25 range, and it wouldn't be that surprising if it were a little more.
That would price him out of the Stars' budget next season in all likelihood, by the way, but would be a heck of a way to spend $625,000 this year with Nystrom making $2.5 million in Nashville.
-Kari Lehtonen voted yes on the goaltender equipment reductions, betting it would affect others more than it would him and thus turning it into an advantage for his team. [DMN]
-The game will be broadcast locally in St. Louis on an FM station, so we hold out hope the stream will be available once more on KMOX. [CBS St. Louis]
-NHL.com previews the Stars season for the third or fourth time... [NHL.com]
-Recap of last night's action from a local San Antonio source focusing more on the atmosphere at the game and the rarity of NHL hockey in SA. [My San Antonio.com]