As the first week of training camp has now come and gone, Dallas Stars fans got their first real look at the lines and defensive pairings Lindy Ruff could utilize this season at practice today. The "NHL group" was separated into one group this morning, while the rest of the training camp invitees practiced in a second group.
As Ruff mentioned in the summer, Patrick Sharp was placed on the top line. Another pairing most wanted to see was also united when Valeri Nichushkin was lined up next to pivot Jason Spezza. Here were the forward lines used at practice today, courtesy of one super-awesome Mark Stepneski:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Sharp
Val Nichushkin - Jason Spezza - Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves
Curtis McKenzie - Vernon Fiddler - Colton Sceviour
Remi Elie - Mattias Janmark - Travis Moen
That third line is intriguing, with Eaves as malleable as silly putty in the lineup next to the speediness of Roussel and Eakin. It seems to balance defensive responsibility with a scoring touch and puck possession. Would they fair better against a Vladimir Tarasenko than the Stars did last night? I'd guess yes.
A first look was also given to defensive pairings, and it seems that this is pretty close to how a lot of people had the blueliners ranked on paper after the first week of training camp:
Alex Goligoski - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Jason Demers
Jordie Benn - Jyrki Jokipakka
Patrik Nemeth - Jamie Oleksiak
That Goligoski / Klingberg pairing would bring a lot of offensive capability to the ice but lacks some size. The Oduya / Demers pairing looks to be the minute-eating defensive pairing most assumed would be utilized this season.
Antti Niemi is expected to start in net tomorrow, and the assumption is he will play the entire game like Kari Lehtonen did last night. Speaking of Lehtonen, you can view the highlights that shows the mess Lehtonen was playing behind last night, if you wish.
And you can hear Lindy's evaluation of Lehtonen's performance last night!
Morning skate for the group expected to play tomorrow night will be tomorrow morning at 10 AM CST at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco. The non-game group will follow them on same ice at 11:30 AM CST, in case you can't make it out to the preseason game tomorrow night at 7 PM at the American Airlines Center.