The Dallas Stars' world has changed. Much that once was is lost - Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy, and Tomas Vincour for starters. As few as six remain from the 2011-2012 opening night roster, even, and there is still time to turn more of it over before the puck drops on this Anaheim game tonight.
Oh, yeah. There is a game tonight.
There are 13 of them remaining, in fact. A look at the standings suggests, despite the paradigm shift yesterday and "an eye on the future" as Joe Nieuwendyk said, that the Stars still have a chance. Those that remain on the roster must grasp at it, despite the greatly reduced firepower.
With our heads in the clouds, however, we must also keep one foot planted on the ground - These 13 contests will likely amount to a fact finding mission.
Information will be gathered about Cody Eakin, for one, now to be given closer to 20 minutes a night in a second-line center capacity. Alex Chiasson figures to get a look. Matt Fraser, too, could find himself with important audition time, along side new-comer Lane MacDermid, who may delight with a fight or two.
News on exactly who stays and who goes back to Texas will come later this afternoon. Reilly Smith, Mike Heika speculates, will stay in Cedar Park for the remainder to prepare for the AHL playoffs.
To speculate on the line combinations would be pretty dishonest at this point. With Vernon Fiddler and Ryan Garbutt still out, though close, the Stars are left with precious few "regulars" to deploy.
Jamie Benn, Ray Whitney, Loui Eriksson, Cody Eakin, Antoine Roussel, Eric Nystrom, Erik Cole.
That's the list of NHL regulars remaining and currently healthy. They'll need to be supplemented with five additional bodies tonight at least, including as many as two centers. Roussel could be asked to play center on "third" or "fourth" line. We don't know.
Through it all the defense should be relatively un-changed for Dallas, while Texas' situation is as fluid as can possibly be.
You know what the Ducks will roll out, and the only piece they're missing is Nick Bonino with the flu. Anaheim is 13-4-0 at home, tying them for the second most home wins in the league.
From Stars PR: "The Stars come into Wednesday's matchup against the Anaheim Ducks having recorded wins in two of their last three meetings at Honda Center. Since the start of the 2007-08 season, Dallas has earned points in 11 of their last 15 games in Anaheim (7-4-4)."
Intrigue abounds. Like opening night without much of a training camp or preseason to go on, Stars fans really have no idea what they'll be seeing tonight. How could you miss that?