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Dallas Stars Set to Open Season vs Anaheim Ducks (7:30pm CDT)

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It’s opening night! Will Benn and Seguin be ready after such little preseason action?

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, hello, and welcome back to Defending Big D for our coverage of the Central Division’s reigning champion Dallas Stars as they embark on what they hope will be another exhilarating regular season in 2016-2017.

Those of you who tuned-out just when the Rangers were getting good and these Stars were, err, going the other way, might just now be recalling the way things ended for this bunch.

There was a 13th playoff game of the year. There was a game seven. There were goaltenders involved. And I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Now as the Texas Rangers endured the same fate, the long road back from that not-so-fateful night in May starts this evening with Dallas playing host to the Anaheim Ducks. It’s the sixth straight home opener for the Stars, who have a 10-1-3 record at the AAC on opening nights.

Find this one on Fox Sports Southwest tonight if you’re not coming out, and join Razor and Craig Ludwig in the broadcast booth- Or we’ll see you at the AAC.

And now to preview this new beginning, let's go line-by-line, why not...

Nick Ritchie-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry

vs

Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Patrick Eaves

Whoa- Tyler Seguin AND Ryan Getzlaf AND Jamie Benn AND Corey Perry? NBC Sports hit the nail on the head last night by putting such a cast on national television.

Seriously, though- Team Canada wanted all of these big Stars on their roster for the World Cup, but Benn and Seguin struggled through injury troubles and did not participate. With Getzlaf and Perry rolling for over a month now and Lindy Ruff's contingent having seen zero ice time together in the preseason, you've got to give the edge to the hated Ducks on this one, no? Until Tyler and Jamie earn it back.

Keep and eye on young Nick Ritchie and hope the Ducks have found a passenger, and not yet another driver. And yes, he's related to the other one.

Andrew-Cogliano-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silferberg

vs

Patrick Sharp-Jason Spezza-Jiri Hudler

It will be interesting to see if Lindy tried to get his third line out against this group while letting Benn and Seguin handle Getzlaf and his unfortunate human partner guy, or if Sharp and company get a crack at this group. Stars fans know what a pain in the rear-end Cogliano can be, and witnessed Silvferberg's emergence a couple of springs ago. The 25 year-old has already played in 36 playoff games over the last three season- Something that can scarcely said about any Stars.

Spezza, Sharp, and Hudler, however, were electric the little I saw them in pre-season, so I like that unit to out-perform the Ducks'.

Antoine Roussel-Radek Faksa-Brett Ritchie

vs

Mason Raymond-Antoine Vermette-Nick Sorenson

Ales Hemsyk's continued day-to-day absence throws a wet blanket on what was a pretty instrumental unit down the stretch in the spring. Those three delivered night in and night out, and while Ritchie is a big body and uses it well, his skill set vs Hemsky's is different, to say the least, though still considerable. So it's an item of curiosity.

With Carlyle back behind the Anaheim bench the performance, behavior, and attention of his checking unit will be the subject of much curiosity. Carlyle's first stint with the Ducks was polluted with parades to the penalty box and a certain penchant for the seemingly unnecessary- (Give him credit for a Stanley Cup in there, too). But Anaheim was rated one of the best defensive teams last season despite letting their coach go- Carlyle's renewed (or not) philosophy will shine through this group on the third line and we can't wait to see what it is.

Ryan Garbutt-Chris Wagner-Jared Boll

vs

McKenzie-Shore-Cracknell

Korpikoski could figure in here as well, and will, but we wonder if he's had enough time with the team to merit an appearance tonight. This whole group is a mystery- The injuries to Janmark and Cody Eakin make this line possible, but it's a complete unknown at this point, and it will be interesting to see how Lindy utilizes this line down the stretch in the third if the game is close.

Jared Boll scored seven goals with the Blue Jackets a few years back. I don't know if you remember. Remember? When Jared Boll scored... Never mind. He's on the Ducks now and seems like a Randy Carlyle kind of guy- You could shout his name at your television tonight, certainly. With Ryan Garbutt opposite him the group has a chance to really hack someone off. Contrast this with Dallas' very young group that's more likely to look to turn up-ice and produce the stuff of gold for NHL 4th liners- An offensive zone faceoff.

Absentees-

You know them well on the Stars' side of the equation- Anaheim has a couple that could play but won't due to financial considerations. Let the OC Register describe the situation:

There were rumblings this summer that the process to re-sign potential defensive backbone Hampus Lindholm might be bumpy, but that didn't appear to be the case with Rickard Rakell, who's full of talent but only hit the 20-goal mark last season. Those two are left with Winnipeg's Jacob Trouba as restricted free agents who aren't under contract to start the season. Even if both sign shortly, it's likely they won't be able to play for the first couple of games. Maybe things get resolved sooner than later, but the staredown on both sides could cut deep and work its way into the dressing room. [OC Register]

On the blue line-

Anaheim boasts a solid unit already, but now annoyingly they've seen the emergence of new draft pick Jacob Larsson, who could blossom into a regular presence for them at a very young age. Keep an eye on #51 if he gets the nod tonight.

Ducks-

  • Fowler-Manson
  • Despres-Bieksa
  • Larsson-Vatanen

Stars-

  • Benn-Klingberg
  • Oduya-Johns
  • Hamhuis-Nemeth

Between the Pipes-

Lindy Ruff is gonna Lindy Ruff- Which is to say, check back with us at about 11am this morning. He spoke glowingly of both his netminders on with the Hard Line yesterday afternoon. For the Ducks it seems as though it's John Gibson's gig to lose this year, though they have Jon Bernier back in Southern California and waiting to jump back in at the first sign of trouble.

From Stars PR:

IT'S BENN A LONG SUMMER

Stars captain Jamie Benn finished with a career-high 89 points (41-48=89), including a career-high 41 goals, in 82 games during the 2015-16 season. Benn ranked second in the League in points (89) and third in goals (41), with his 41 goals registering as the second-most by a Stars player since the team moved to Dallas and tied for the 11th-most in franchise history. The native of Victoria, B.C. was named a finalist for the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award along with being named a First Team NHL All Star for the second time in his career. Benn has seven points (1-6=7) over his last four games against Anaheim, including two three-assist outings (April 8, 2015 at Anaheim and Oct. 27, 2015 vs. Anaheim) over the span. Over his NHL career, he has recorded 23 points (6-17=23) in 30 games against them. His 17 assists against the Ducks are tied for his second-highest career assist total against any NHL opponent (most: 18 career assists vs. Colorado, tied: 17 career assists vs. San Jose).

TYLER SEGUIN'S HOUSE OF PAYNE

Stars forward Tyler Seguin registered 73 points (30-40=73) in 72 games with the Stars last season. He ranked 14th in the NHL and second on the club in points (73), while finishing tied for tenth in the League and tied for second on the team in goals (33). Seguin shared 21st in the NHL and tied for second on the Stars with six game-winning goals. The native of Brampton, Ont. has skated in nine games in his career against the Ducks and has three assists (0-3=3), with two assists (0-2=2) over his last three games.

SHARP AS A KNIFE

Stars forward Patrick Sharp registered 55 points (20-35=55) in 76 games in his first season as a member of the club during the 2015-16 campaign. He finished fifth on the team in points (55), while he ranked fourth in both goals (20) and assists (35), notching his eighth career 20-goal season. The native of Thunder Bay, Ont. shared 21st in the NHL and was tied for second on the Stars with six game-winning goals. In his NHL career against Anaheim, Sharp has skated in 33 games and has recorded 30 points (15-15=30), leading the team in career goals and career points against the Ducks. He also has registered five points (1-4=5) in his last four games against them.