The Dallas Stars dominated the Chicago Blackhawks for the majority of Thursday night's season-opening contest, but at the end of the day had only one point to show as it slipped into a shootout and an eventual loss.
"It's disappointing to not get the win out of it," Jason Spezza said afterward. "We carried the play for most of the night. They got some momentum with the power plays in the third. For the most part, I thought we deserved a better fate tonight."
A chance to get it back comes quickly as the Stars open a three-game trip tonight in Nashville, who they already trail in the standings after a single contest. Small sample sizes are fun.
A viewpoint I heard expressed repeatedly yesterday: After giving the Blackhawks all they could handle in game one the Stars should have no problem taking it to the Predators, right?
Err, not exactly. The Stars recorded 34 shots on opening night. The Predators amassed 37. The Stars attempted 73, Nashville 72. The Stars scored twice. The Preds three times after trailing.
37 shots for the Preds? 19 times last season they failed to reach 25. Some off-season additions have something to do with that, and we should know, not to mention a new head coach for the first time in franchise history. Former Stars Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy and James Neal (seven shots Thursday) all add creativity and scoring pop to the historically offensively-challenged Predators, and they've got that big home-ice advantage to boot.
And Shea Weber. And Pekka Rinne. So much Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne.
The big news in Frisco Friday morning was the lack of Tyler Seguin at practice, and it seems he has succumbed to the sickness making its way insidiously through the locker room, already affecting Val Nichushkin and others to this point.
He should be available for tonight's contest, however, barring a worsening of his symptoms overnight.
Erik Cole may be squeezing his way out of the doghouse after practicing on the second line Friday, but Ruff said he had not yet made a decision on whether or not the veteran would draw in or where he would play.
Presumably the lines could start out looking something like this:
Kevin Connauton left Thursday night's game after taking a puck up high but did return in the third period and there appears to be no lasting effects from the play, so expect the same unit on the blue line.
Speculation (unsubstantiated) from media close to the Stars has been that Ruff could possibly attempt to get Anders Lindback into early season action on this road trip. We're guessing not tonight against a division opponent.
"Don't know too many games that would have a faster pace than that," Lindy Ruff said Thursday night. "Two quick teams with two good transition offenses. Both teams skate well and that showed tonight."
Ordinarily I'd be questioning whether that style of game suits the Stars rather than the trap that awaits them tonight, and will do so when other teams come around, but for now it's all curiosity as the Predators finally install a new system. Who knows what pace we'll see this evening?
Here were the Nashville forward lines the last time I wrote a game preview for them, April 8th, 2014:
Here are the projected groups tonight:
Talk about a makeover.
That's still a salty fourth line to watch out for, is the first thing that comes to mind. Mystery surrounds the third in the eyes of most Stars fans- And yes, that is Olli Jokinen, who left Winnipeg and signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal on July 2nd.
The first two are where the real intrigue lies. Mike Ribeiro and James Neal, Derek Roy and Filip Forsberg. There's talent there, I don't care what you say, and in a small sample size it may inflict quite a bit of damage. We know quite intimately what most of those players are capable of on any given night.
What we don't know is how the ever fashion-conscious Ribeiro feels about that color yellow. Yuck. Just yuck.
At any rate, there are still a few familiar sights to be seen in their lineup- Like Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Seth Jones. They have a nice little group here that could be much better than they've been given credit for.
Keep an eye on that Filip Forsberg, or as the Predators fans call him, #princefilip. He's working his way up the lineup, he's young, he has a nickname. He can play a bit, too. They're very excited about him in music city.
From Stars PR:
The Dallas Stars head out on the road for the first time in the 2014-15 season on Saturday as the club travels to Nashville to take on the Predators. The Stars have posted wins in their last two games against Nashville, outscoring them 9-5. Dallas has also claimed wins in three of the last four against the Predators, and four of the last six dating back to the 2012-13 season. In the 60 all-time meetings between the two clubs, the Stars have outscored Nashville 160-130, allowing just 2.17 goals against per game, Dallas' lowest mark against any other team in the League.