In the second half of last night's contest the Dallas Stars were electric in out-scoring the Florida Panthers 5-1. The problem was they graciously allowed their guests a 3-0 lead before turning up the heat. It was on that topic that head coach Lindy Ruff spoke when he told media exactly what he'd like to see tonight.
"An improved start," be began. "I really didn't like some of our decisions early on in the game. The entries into the (offensive) zone were a big deal. Some of them were offside. Some of them we didn't get deep. We let them play on a pretty short piece of ice to start the game."
The top-of-mind subject matter today, however, was the health of Kari Lehtonen, and on that front the coach had some good news.
"To me Kari seems pretty good today. I'm not a doctor," the wizened bench-boss quipped, "and I don't play one on TV," he added quite deftly, to giggles from media, "but we're basically out of the woods on that situation."
That he's now had multiple concussions is troubling. There's no sugar-coating that, but to hear Ruff speak like that about him this morning was quite cheering, indeed. So enough with the serious business and on to the fun part- More Seguin and Spezza this evening.
Folks, if you weren't out there last night, and you have the means, we would highly encourage you to come on out and see these guys, though a back-to-back may diminish the legs a little. Conditioning, presumably, is why they're doing this (with the top-six), however. The power play was nothing short of electric and should be again tonight.
Ryan Garbutt and Antoine Roussel will take the night off, while Horcoff, Fiddler and Sceviour could represent a very real preview of an eventual fourth line, should Cody Eakin wrestle the gig with the aforementioned speedy pests away from the elder center-man. The Eaves-Morin-Ritchie combination is a harder one to figure in terms of implications, but all three will likely see time at the NHL level this season at one time or another.
Last night was a mixed bag on the back end with John Klingberg and Jamie Oleksiak having the occasional adventurous time with it. Tonight Oleksiak will get to go again and Jokipakka draws in to play with Sergei Gonchar.
So it's another fairly green group back there, and tonight they'll be defending in front of Anders Lindback for the full 60, if all goes according to plan.
The Lightning lit up Dallas to the tune of six goals over the weekend - The most a team has scored in a single preseason game this September. They've also allowed the fewest goals in the league in the preseason thus far. It could be a stiff test tonight.
Full Ruff from morning skate: