After five months, 12 days of long radio silence, Dallas Stars hockey is back tonight.
Okay, so it's not quite true Stars hockey just yet. There will be a distinct lack of familiar numbers to most people who follow tonight's 6:30 p.m. preseason game against the Florida Panthers. As with most early preseason games, the most valuable part for the organization will be getting a look at some of the younger and fringe players battling for the final roster spots or first call ups.
"Mainly looking at our young guys and seeing what they're going to do in a game," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of the game plan, "see where they're at against a Florida team that's going to have their share of young guys too."
According to Mark Stepneski, here are the lines the Stars were running during their pre-game skate in Cedar Park to prepare for tonight's game:
Antoine Roussel - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin
Brendan Ranford - Mattias Janmark - Colton Sceviour
Curtis McKenzie - Radek Faksa - Remi Elie
Jason Dickinson - Devin Shore - Gemel Smith
This will presumably be Seguin's first game sans knee brace since he was submarined last February against these very Panthers. He wore a brace last season to give extra stability to his injured MCL but has indicated he didn't want to wear it long term.
Things are a little less organized on the defensive end, at least in terms of knowing potential pairings, but the lineup itself is more veteran heavy with Jason Demers, John Klingberg, Jyrki Jokipakka and Jamie Oleksiak all scheduled to be in the lineup next to Julius Honka and Esa Lindell.
(Bonus points if you can tell me why Lindell is the spoilsport in that group.)
Neither of the two-headed starting goalie monster will play with Jack Campbell and Philippe Desrosiers traveling as the goalies.
"I think it's important to see where those guys are at," Ruff said of his goalies. "You get an indication watching practice and some of these scrimmages, but to see them in game situations. How they react under the gun in the best way to evaluate."
Given that roster, the Stars are taking the minimum eight players with NHL experience to the game. Again, that's hardly surprising this early in the preseason, especially as the team has yet to make its first round of cuts.
As far as following tonight's game, that's still TBD. The Panthers had a stream of their video board feed pop up online last season, but that may or may not be available this time around. If it is, one of the more interesting aspects to watch will be the 3-on-3 overtime, which will be played tonight regardless of the score after 60 minutes.