Finally! The boys are back. The American Airlines Center ice gets uncovered after 23 days of hockey-less sadness, and the NHL playoff race is back on as the Dallas Stars host their division rivals, the Los Angeles Kings.
It's a funny thing, to stop and start the season. Most everyone gets healthy. Players that didn't go to the Games are refreshed and eager to get back to work. It's like starting from scratch, except, you know, that whole playoff race thing. The real question is this: Can momentum built before the break carry over into March? Can Marty Turco continue that magnificent roll he was on in the February games? And if the Stars momentum carries over, what about the Kings? They won an absolutely gaudy 10 of their last 12 games before the Olympics.
Los Angeles has dominated the Stars this year, going 3-0 against them and outscoring them 12-7. Their last trip to Dallas was a convincing 4-1 win. The teams will meet 10 days from now for the third and final meeting on AAC ice.
After the jump, lines, injuries? A new camera system for the television broadcast?
I am so happy that Stars hockey is back...
Brenden Morrow and Jere Lehtinen were expected to join the team today at morning skate, medals in hand of course. Karlis Skrastins and Loui Eriksson played in 4 games each, Jere Lehtinen in 6 games, and Brenden Morrow in all 7 games for Team Canada. Many coaches in the league have said they expect the Olympics to have energized their players, more than fatigued them. Still, one would think that Canadian and United States Olympians could be emotionally drained for a game or two.
Mike Heika and Mark Stepneski report that Mark Fistric (knee) is doing well, but will wait at least one game before jumping back in the lineup. He had some soreness this week, and Crawford liked what Woywitka was doing before the break, so they'll roll with him.
Lines, if you're a betting man (or woman):
Those are the current "best guess" but yours is as good as anyone's. Construct your lines in the comments if you dare. Sutherby's shoulder is still ailing him. You'll note Fabian Brunnstrom's name absent. He's not hurt.
Thanks to Wil for the heads up on this: Razor has a note on his blog about a "sky cam system" in the AAC tonight:
Tonight on KDFI My27 we will be testing a cabled "sky camera" similar to the NFL's
If it works it will add outstanding coverage to the games.
With glass, and boards, and netting creating barriers between fans and the action this is exciting - and overdue.
Do yourself a favor, watch the tilt and be a part of the revolution.
He's got a picture of it there, so check it out. Should be fun, though I'll be at the game so you'll have to let me know how it is.
Los Angeles has one of the best beat writers in the business at Kings Insider: Rich Hammond. He's got all the Kings info you need, like this quote from the coach:
"That first game, we’re just going to have to kind of feel our way into it. But I like what we’ve done in the practices. There’s been real good attention to detail. Players have brought good energy and focus and concentration. So with all of that behind us now, we just have to get back into the games, and players have to be sure that they’re managing their minutes the right way. You don’t want to over-extend yourself in the early goings. Let the game play out. Don’t be hesitant. Just keep going after it, keep that aggressive mindset and I think as we manage that emotionally, we’ll be OK, get back on track and, hopefully after a couple games, get back to full speed."
Also, check out SB Nation blog Jewels from the Crown for more Kings coverage.
Dallas: Wandell (knee), Fistric (knee) and Sutherby (shoulder) are out tonight.
Los Angeles: Andrei Loktionov (shoulder) and Justin Williams (leg) are on IR.