The big day is here at last: Hockey season begins in Dallas tonight, as the Dallas Stars meet the Pittsburgh Penguins and its 35-percent-more-terrifying top line (now with 100 percent more Phil Kessel). Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m., just in case you're counting down the hours.
Is Our Gang ready for the challenge? Lindy Ruff "liked what he saw" during the team's final practice yesterday, according to our friend Mark Stepneski:
"I think the group has a tremendous attitude," Ruff said. "The practices the last two days were right up to speed, and I thought today was a real good day. We can't wait to get it going."
"Our practices have been really good. There's a lot of tempo out there," said defenseman Alex Goligoski. "Guys are working on stuff after practice; it's good to see. Guys aren't just leaving the ice and getting home. The focus in here is definitely high."
The crew looks healthy, says Ruff – including Jamie Benn, Jason Demers and Ales Hemsky, who missed Monday but have worked through full practices for the past two days.
Ruff also addressed the line ruffling that has ruffled a few feathers among fans:
"This is aimed at a lot of things," he said. "I've got some guys that aren't quite up to speed yet. I think they'll be close come tomorrow night. It's an option that we'd like to look at."
Eakin has had success matching up against Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby in the past, and Ruff said that is a factor behind the line combinations as well.
"That plays into it," Ruff said. "That's a matchup, for me, that has been pretty effective."
There's more, more, more under the link. [Stars Inside Edge]
HOCKEY TONIGHT 0 DAYS LEFT STARS PLAY TONIGHT EVERYBODY OMG THE WAIT IS OVER THIS IS SO IMPORTANT YOU GUYS LOL
Yes, of course, it's exciting to have James Franco and yet another JFK miniseries in production in Dealey Plaza blahblahblah, but it also means that street closures could make this evening's trip to AAC...challenging. Know where to go!
Driving to @AACenter tomorrow night? Find out which streets will be closed near the arena-->http://t.co/VtCBEmXPtZ pic.twitter.com/kseIZeabLe— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) October 7, 2015
A new Heika, and it's a good one: a fascinating look at the two very different parts of the Stars' goalie platoon and their very different paths to the NHL. Read about how pumped Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi are about playing on the same team, and danged if you don't find yourself reassured that this thing really is going to work. [SportsDayDFW]
Patrick Eaves and his daughters will participate in Girls Play Too, a free hockey weekend scheduled for Oct. 10-11 at Dr Pepper StarCenter McKinney. "Girls of all ages can learn to shoot, skate and stickhandle from professional coaches" at the McKinney facility, as well as at the StarCenters in Richardson and Farmers Branch. [Dallas Stars]
Did you know that other people think the NHL season started last night? I know! It's kooky, yeah? But it seems that Whiteboard Willie Desjardins' Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames at something.
The #Canucks started their season with a statement win over the #Flames. http://t.co/kToO5ufrv2 pic.twitter.com/5ubLApryDw— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 8, 2015
Meanwhile, Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers came to the Chicago Blackhawks' banner-raising party just to knock over a few tables and throw a drink in someone's face.
Out of sight: Rangers spoil Blackhawks’ banner night http://t.co/qBbYCX5yfb— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) October 8, 2015
Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt talked about how exciting it is to be playing on home ice in United Center. [Chicago Tribune]
This was before last night's game, in which each of them were on the ice for a Rangers goal-against. [NHL]
The Mike Babcock era got off to a hiccup-y start as the Toronto Maple Leafs lost their home opener to
Jesus Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens. [Toronto Sun]
But ultimately, this game was remarkable for much more than the score, as the new "coach's challenge" rule passed its first test.
First #CoachsChallenge in the NHL is successful. #Habs goal overturned after #Leafs challenge based on interference pic.twitter.com/biHIj9oAu0— Scouting The Refs (@ScoutingTheRefs) October 8, 2015
The San Jose Sharks ran up the score against the Los Angeles Kings last night, 5-1, which gave @SanJoseSharks plenty of opportunity to bust out this year's animated GIF line. (Seriously, they have a million of them.)
Jumbo picks the corner! Tie game! #SJSharks pic.twitter.com/jzOqgiULgG— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 8, 2015
This game led to what may have been the other biggest dog-bites-man story of the night.
Lucic gets a match penalty for running Couture at end of LA/SJ.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 8, 2015
It was also the scene of another ugly late hit directly to someone's head – this time Matt Greene on Barclay Goodrow:
Greene hit on Goodrow pic.twitter.com/BpBjnHzr9h— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 8, 2015
...which led to this from Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski:
I would not fight a man named Barclay Goodrow for fear that his family would be watching from their yacht and choose to litigate.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) October 8, 2015
To sum up:
Tough opening night for the home team...all 4 games are won by the visitors. Mtl,NYR,Van,SJ. Memo from GM "start on road".— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) October 8, 2015
Dan Rosen answers eight burning questions about the 2015-16 NHL season, including an interesting prediction about who has a real shot at scoring 100 points. [NHL]
Finally: Tyler Seguin took on the State Fair of Texas Tuesday night. It wasn't even close. Hello Kitty approves. (Take special note of all those giant donuts, because it's like a sign or something. Sprinkles are for winners!)
The fair didn't stand a chance earlier today. Dogs are going to have some new toys pic.twitter.com/4F8HsE9F0e— Tyler Seguin (@tseguinofficial) October 7, 2015