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Gameday Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Dallas Stars (7:30p CDT)

The time has finally come. After a long, long summer without any Stars hockey, one in which we've seen an incredible amount of turnover in the front office, a game will be played tonight at American Airlines Center. This feels different than in past years and for the first time since I can remember, there is a new kind of excitement surrounding the team. Fans have noticed the enthusiasm and energy shown by the players in training camp so far and it's effect should be seen in tonight's game. This team is under a new regime that has come into Frisco and really shaken things up, making no promises to established players and opening up competition for the open roster spots.

Tonight will be the first chance we get to see if Joe Nieuwendyk's feelings were correct, when he came in with the plan that things needed to change and a new atmosphere instilled surrounding the team. Early reports from camp have been overwhelmingly positive (with a few expected hiccups), and perhaps this change was something that is indeed good for the Stars. While we will be seeing a lot players tonight that ultimately won't be on the 23-man roster, we will still get our first taste of Crawford's new system. That in itself is reason enough for excitement and intrigue.

Game info and things to watch for after the jump.

What: Tampa Bay Lightning @ Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Radio: Tonight's game will be broadcast on Tampa radio 970 AM. Go here to listen.

Things to watch for:

  • Tonight's game should mostly feature a lot of players destined for the minors, but will be a good gauge to see who will be the top prospects to look for in the future.
  • Right now, the right wing on the top line is open for competition. With Lehtinen supposedly already slotted next to Modano, there's an open competition for that spot. Before camp, we thought that Fabian Brunnstrom was nearly a lock for top line minutes but he's been unimpressive so far in practices. Jamie Bennhas been getting time on the right wing, but he's been at his best playing with Modano so far in camp.
  • Heika suggests that Mathieu Beaudoin, a right-handed winger, could get a shot at a roster spot and possibly get a look at time on the top line as well. He's an experienced minor-league vet who has produced in the past, and has shown some impressive goal-scoring skills so far in camp. His only hurdle is the lack of an NHL contract.
  • Another big area to keep an eye on is the defense. With so much focus on this new offensive, uptempo system being put in place by Crawford, the pressure is on the defense to not only spark the transition, but maintain discipline and integrity and not get out of position. We have a young defense, and right now they are considered the weak part of the team.
  • Marty Turcowill start tonight, and will split time with Tyler Beskorowany.

Key Injuries:

Dallas: Jere Lehtinen (hip/groin) and Scott Glennie (groin) are out.