It feels like forever since we've had a game. With such a busy schedule in October, it's odd to have nearly four days between games...and it seems a lot has changed in such a short amount of time.
The Stars enter November with a good start but there is certainly room for improvement in nearly every area of their game. They're still getting comfortable with Marc Crawford's system and the goaltending has been a bit inconsistent (but overall impressive on the whole), and now the Stars will seemingly be putting a bit of a different team on the ice tonight against the Flames.
The Dallas Stars:
With Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen returning to the ice, the Stars have shaken things up a bit. Lehtinen will be joining his old linemates of Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro, while Jamie Benn will slide down to join Modano and Steve Ott.
While Brad Richards and his line have been playing out of their minds through 14 games, the rest of the forwards have had a bit of difficulty with sustained execution and chemistry. Perhaps things were getting a bit stale early in the season and the team fought through some nagging injuries and a brutal schedule.
With three full days to rest and with two veteran forwards set to return, the Stars should hit the ice full of energy and with new life. It finally seems as if this is a whole team again, as it's been a very long time since the Stars have gone this long without Modano on the ice (and will have to get used to that eventually). Modano provides immediate stability on the third line, while Lehtinen will hopefully spark Morrow and Ribeiro enough to get them out of whatever funk they may be in.
Marty Turco will also be back in net after missing two games with 'flu-like symptoms'.
The Calgary Flames:
In their first meeting against the Flames on October 9th, the Stars got their first win of the season behind a solid effort by Alex Auld and opportunistic offense in the third period. Although the Flames have an admirable record (like the Stars) to start the season, they are coming off two straight losses and the team isn't happy with how things have been going. From Matchsticks and Gasoline:
After an indifferent finish to the Flames' homestand, the boss decided he'd seen quite enough, with a practice meant to shake a few people up. I'm skeptical when it comes to the long term effects, so the fact that the players said all the right things won't mean much until the results match the words.
The lines appear set for another adjustment, with Nystrom getting a chance to work with the reunited Jokinen-Iginla pairing. I'm on the record as "not a fan" of that duo, although the next two lines of Bourque-Langkow-Dawes and Glencross-Boyd-Moss are good by me. My hope for Boyd this year was that he superceded Conroy based on good play, and not because the Flames' elder statesman fell off a cliff. There's enough evidence of that to be reassured on that point at least.
Kipper 5 v 5: 3-14 vs. Colorado, 2-25 vs. Detroit. Season total - 21 GA, 256 SA, .918 5 v 5 SV%. Sort of a meh week for the Flames' netminder. An extra save or two would have been nice, but I can't really blame him for the team's results, because slack-ass work from the skaters drove the results into the ditch against the Avs and Wings.
Projected lines [UPDATED]:
Dallas: None Calgary: Mikka Kiprusoff will miss tonight's game with what Flames head coach Brent Sutter is calling, 'a touch of the bug', according to the Calgary Herald's Flames Insider. Kiprusoff stayed at the team hotel during Calgary's morning skate but will be on the bench to serve as Curtis McElhinney's backup. [Update from Brandon Bibb at 4:22 pm CST]
Calgary: Mikka Kiprusoff will miss tonight's game with what Flames head coach Brent Sutter is calling, 'a touch of the bug', according to the Calgary Herald's Flames Insider. Kiprusoff stayed at the team hotel during Calgary's morning skate but will be on the bench to serve as Curtis McElhinney's backup. [Update from Brandon Bibb at 4:22 pm CST]