The Dallas Stars have not defeated the Colorado Avalanche since December of 2013.
That is a problem.
Five tries were not enough last season, and the Stars know their record against the Central Division has to change in a big way if they're to see post-season hockey. Chicago, Nashville, Winnipeg, St. Louis and Minnesota have wins already in the season's first two nights. Keeping Colorado winless falls to Dallas in this most difficult of divisions in hockey.
"To beat a Colorado team we had a hard time with last year would be good," Jason Spezza told media Friday. "That we play them early gives us a chance to get off on the right foot."
Notable arrivals for these Avalanche this season include F Mikhail Grigorenko, D Nikita Zadorov, D Brandon Gormley, D Francois Beauchemin, and F Blake Comeau.
Zadarov and Grigorenko were acquired for Ryan O'Reilly in a big trade with Buffalo. O'Reilly has since been charged with impaired driving, and Grigorenko was a scratch for game one.
Puck drops just after 8pm here in Dallas. Please join us in the game day thread here for boisterous in-game intercourse.
Dallas rolled out some interesting combinations on opening night- Some of which looked ripe for change at about the first intermission. Janmark, Roussel and Hemsky? And yet the temptation to tinker with that is something they appear to be resisting heading into game 2-
"That's something as a staff we'll talk about," Lindy Ruff told media Friday. "It's hard because of the way the game unfolded, the compete we had. I think there are situations that will come along this year that no matter how good the game is that you might decide you want more size, or you might decide you want some fresh bodies in there."
They rolled with the same combos in practice:
If Ales Hemsky plays the way he did Thursday night he can have success with anyone.
That third pairing may find themselves the subject of an opposing coach's focus on the road. Dallas had luxury of last-change against the Penguins. Now we'll see the effect of a calculating opposition attempting to find favorable line match-ups. It could force Lindy to change his group.
Antti Niemi figures to be the starter. Figures. But don't be surprised if Kari Lehtonen gets into a game sooner rather than later. If they're committed to this two-goalie system then they both need to get work.
Colorado was treating their fans to a festive atmosphere Thursday night while the Stars were busy holding Sidney Crosby without a shot on goal. The Avs led 4-1 after two periods, which is about a sure of a thing as you can get in the NHL these days across all pedigrees of teams.
Then in about six minutes the Minnesota Wild scored four times to stun the crowd and Colorado players- Then proceeded to show Patrick Roy's bunch how to lock down a third period lead en route to the victory.
Roy was not pleased, as you might note in this GIF below:
have some angry roy pic.twitter.com/PG3o0nmY4x— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 9, 2015
It is that fire, passion and embarrassment that the Avalanche will aim at the Stars this evening. They need to make someone pay, and they're going to try to make it Dallas.
To be fair, the Avs only allowed 10 shots on goal in what looks on paper to have been an onslaught of a third period by the Wild. They just happened to allow goals on four of them.
As always, discipline will be key on the road- The Avs scored on both of their power play chances Thursday night to start the season a perfect 2-of-2. Though, Minnesota did out-attempt them 75-48.
From Stars PR:
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
The Dallas Stars play their second game of the season on Saturday night at Pepsi Center in Denver as the club plays the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars did not manage to defeat Colorado in the 2014-15 season, with their last win against the Avalanche coming on Dec. 17, 2013. Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn has registered a total of 22 points (5-17=22) against Colorado in his career, four of which were last season. The reigning Art Ross Trophy winner tallied his first point of the season by netting a goal (1-0=1) in the Stars opening game vs. Pittsburgh.
JANMARKS THE SPOT
Rookie forward Mattias Janmark made his NHL debut in the Stars season opener against the Penguins on Thursday night. He opened up the scoring for the 2015-16 season by registering his first goal (1-0=1) just 1:39 into the first period, which is the second-fastest goal scored by a Stars rookie in his debut. Bob Barlow is the only Dallas player to score a faster goal in his NHL debut at 1:08 on October 11, 1969 versus Philadelphia. Janmark is also the first Stars rookie to score in his first career NHL game since Brett Ritchie on Dec. 31, 2014.
UPPED THE ANTTI
Dallas newcomer Antti Niemi garnered two assists (0-2=2) in his debut game with the Stars, which ties him for the most points on the club with Ales Hemsky (1-1=2). He is only the second goaltender in franchise history to record multiple assists in a game and marked the second time the goaltender registered an assist in first game with a new team (last: with San Jose Sharks in 2011-12). Niemi stopped all 37 shots he faced en route to his 33rd career shutout making him the first goaltender in NHL history to record two assists and a shutout in the same game. The last time Dallas left an opening game with a shutout was in October of 1969 as the Minnesota North Stars. Niemi has been in the net for seven wins (7-0-2) out of a total of nine games against the Avalanche in his NHL career.