Game 4: St. Louis Blues @ Dallas Stars
Thursday, October 13th, 2011, 7:30 PM CDT
American Airlines Center
Local TV, Radio: FSSW, KTCK 1310 The Ticket
Opponent Blog: St. Louis Game Time
The Dallas Stars will look to collect their third home victory in as many tries when the St. Louis Blues bring their 1-1-0 record to the AAC tonight at 7:30pm CDT. Dallas swept the season series from the Blues 4-0 last year in come from behind fashion every time, a feat they hope they don't have to repeat this time around.
The Stars offense has managed just five goals in three games played this season, including a 1 of 14 on the power play stat. Chicago and Phoenix dominated territorially and possession-wise throughout each. Kari Lehtonen's stellar play has been the great equalizer and he'll look to continue a very hot start to the season tonight.
The St. Louis Blues are coming off a dominant win against the Calgary Flames at home on Monday that saw them out-shoot their opponent 35-17 and outscore them 5-2, earning points from 10 different players. They feel they're a very deep team that can roll four lines and consistently challenge the opposition now that they're finally healthy.
"We've got a good hockey team here," winger Andy McDonald told the St. Louis Dispatch. "I really like the balance we have in our forward lines. We've got three lines that can score and a fourth line that's hard to play against. I think for other teams looking at that lineup, what do your really do when you have those lines coming over the boards?"
Should the Texas Rangers' ALCS game 4 actually start on time tomorrow, it should be over just before this one gets going, so come on down and make your day extra sportsy.
Continued after the jump...
The big news out of Stars camp this week is the Sean Avery cap situation and the subsequent acquisition of F Eric Nystrom from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for future considerations.
"Eric is a hard-working forward who kills penalties and will help with the depth of our current roster," said Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk. It is not known at this time if Nystrom will join the lineup in time for Thursday's game but we're guessing not, as the Stars have more than enough forwards to fill in.
The biggest change for Thursday is that Tomas Vincour's absence, having already been sent down to the American League to join the Texas Stars. He started the season on the second line with Benn and Eriksson and had been moved to limited fourth line minutes by the third game against Phoenix on Monday.
Practice lines in Frisco looked like this on Wednesday...
The biggest question is who will be in on defense? At the very least, one of Pardy or Grossman is expected to re-enter the lineup. If Pardy comes off IR, Larsen will be sent back to Austin and the Stars defensive group will finally make an appearance all together as intended. We'll update this after morning skate at the AAC.
Can the Ribeiro line finally break through and spend some time in the opposition's zone tonight?
St. Louis brings with them former Stars in Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott, but threaten with an exceptional young core of skilled players like T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Stewart, David Backes and Alex Steen, to say nothing of Star-killer Andy McDonald and his incredible speed.
They'll be led in goal once again by Jaroslav Halak, who is facing some very early season questions about his play. Roger Hensley of the Dispatch discusses Halak here...
Halak has allowed five goals in two games, and while three of those have come on the penalty kill, he hasn't looked smooth. In talking to former goalies, I believe it is difficult to get into a rhythm when you're facing limited shots. Halak saw just 15 shots against Nashville and 17 against Calgary, certainly not a lot. But I don't think that's an excuse for the sloppiness on a couple of the goals and non-scoring plays.
Halak's glove hand was a problem last season, so much so that it was obviously highlighted on the opponent's scouting report. Though Halak was screened a bit on Kevin Klein's go-ahead goal Saturday for Nashville, a better glove hand might have made the save. He also had trouble scooping up a rebound on the Predators' first goal, and looked uncomfortable again Monday cleaning up a loose puck in front of the net.
Expect to see the Fiddler line spend some time checking the Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie and Chris Stewart combination.
The Blues have allowed a total of only 32 SOG against this year in two games, and that impressively low total is foreboding for a Dallas team that already boasts a very negative shot differential through three contests. Can the Stars get enough rubber on Halak to test tonight?