The Dallas Stars will hope the third time is indeed the charm this evening against the visiting Vancouver Canucks.
Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and company fell just short in the American Airlines Center's opening two games: One in a shootout to Chicago and one in a wildly undisciplined affair against the Flyers Saturday night. Lindy Ruff was harsh after the game, understandably, but has mellowed slightly in his evaluation of the proceedings.
"In my eyes, there was a lot of good inside the game," Ruff said more level headed on Monday. "At the same time, there was a lot of bad and we're going to try to clean up the bad and focus on that good part,"
In Wednesday's practice the Stars iced a lineup eerily reminiscent of last year's team against Philadelphia Saturday in fielding just one line that would statistically demonstrate any kind of consistent attack in Seguin, Benn and Spezza, followed by three others that could not.
Indications from Monday's practice after a Sunday off indicated more of the same, with a hope that Cody Eakin's group can help pick up the slack.
"It's something I really want to see," Ruff told media Monday of Spezza playing with Seguin instead of providing depth to the center position. "It's something I don't have an answer for you right now. But I think that ice-time-wise it fits better for us because it gives Jason the ice time minutes with those top guys. I'll need more from two and three where if the Eakin line can give us what they gave us last year."
Question marks on the front end aside, it's those on the defensive end that may prove much more costly after Patrik Nemeth's season ended with a lacerated forearm and perhaps much worse in Saturday's first period.
Team management indicated that Nemeth is done for the entire season Monday at lunch, solidifying Jamie Oleksiak's place with the team and precipitating the call-up of Jyrki Jokipakka to be the one that sits.
Segei Gonchar is still not yet close to even skating. So there's a bit of a dilemma there- One that we'll keep an eye on as the pairings roll and the situations become more and more serious as the game unfolds.
From Stars PR:
"The Stars square off against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday in the first of three matchup between the two clubs. Dallas enters Tuesday's contest boasting a four-game winning streak over the Canucks and having tallied wins in five of the last six against them. The Stars swept Vancouver during the 2013-14 regular season posting a 3-0-0 record while outscoring Vancouver 12-3. Stars captain JAMIE BENN recorded five points (2-3=5) last season against Vancouver and comes into Tuesday's game looking to extend his current seven-game point streak against them (4-6=10)."
As for the Canucks, it's the same old story. The Sedins lead the team with 13 combined points, and then it's good old Radim Vrbata with five after that, including TWO game winners already on the young season.
Vancouver lost Ryan Kesler, David Booth, Jason Garrison, GM Mike Gillis and head coach John Tortorella over the summer in favor of adding Vrbata, Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, Ryan Miller, Derek Dorsett, former Stars great Dustin Jeffrey, and oh yeah, head coach Willie Desjardins.
Having spent two years developing infalible, unfailing respect and admiration for "whiteboard Willie," it's tough to pick against him tonight, even with Vancouver's falling out last season. Consider the following to accompany a sparkling 3-1-0 record:
- Vancouver takes the 4th most shots per game in the league at 34.5.
- They have the league's 7th best shots against at just 26.5.
- They have a top-ten points percentage in the entire league at .750.
- They have a top-ten penalty kill at 87.5.
- They've been perfect on the road (2-0, out-scoring opponents 6-2).
- It's been 86:41 since they allowed a goal on the road- And they're undefeated on the road.
So they're back on track so far- Ready to erase the collapse of a year ago that resulted in nary a playoff game, with heads being axed up and down the lineup.
Thing 1-Thing 2-Vrbata
They've defeated Edmonton, Edmonton, and Calgary. They'll try to draw their first Central Division blood this evening against Dallas at American Airlines Center.
We'll see you back here for the Gameday Thread and best Stars conversation on the internet at 7:30pm CDT.