The Dallas Stars, after some difficulty Thursday night, were fueled by a hungry opening night crowd in their 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Tonight they get the reverse treatment as they play the interlopers in Denver where the Avalanche will open their hopeful 2016-2017 campaign.
Colorado has not been a friendly destination for these Stars, as you know- Dallas needed an overtime victory in February of last season to snap a seven-game losing stream in Denver, but did manage to scrape a .500 record (2-2) against Roy's bunch last year after years of futility.
Not much is expected to change for the Stars from opening night- Johnny Oduya took a maintenance day after game one, so we'll keep an eye on that- And starting netminder is always an adventure but the guess is Antti Niemi will be allowed to continue... You know, probably?
We'll turn our attention instead to Colorado- The Avs added Fedor Tyutin and Patrick Wiercioch (Ottawa) on their blue line to remake the defense significantly like Dallas did, but didn't do much onthe forwards in the way of big names.
Joe Colborne, Rene Bourque and Gabriel Bourque join the fold along with 4th-liner Ben Smith, but for the most part the Avalanche strength remains with the super list of young talent you've come to know and fear as a Stars fan.
The biggest shake-up for these Avs came in the dead of hockey's yearly desert that is August when head coach Patrick Roy decided to call it quits, forcing Joe Sakic to go on the hunt on short notice. He ended up with little known Jared Bednar, who will attempt to use their skill in more obvious ways that did the criticized Roy.
The lineup tonight will look something like this-
One potential bullet the Stars dodge? The season debut for will-be rookie Mikko Rantanen, the AHL's rookie of the year last season. He was injured in preseason and will go on what amounts to a conditioning stint with the San Antonio Rampage rather than show his extremely young face in Denver here tonight.
The only other injury is John Mitchell. Cody McLeod and Eric Gelinas are expected to be the scratches.
Varlamov will start in goal, naturally. He of the many 40-save percentage against these Stars.
From Stars PR:
SNAP, CRACKNELL, POP
Stars forward Adam Cracknell recorded two points (1-1=2) on Thursday night against the Anaheim Ducks in his first regular-season game wearing a Stars uniform. Cracknell tied his career-high for points in a game and registered the fourth multi-point game of his career (last: 2 assists on Dec. 7, 2015 vs. Buffalo as a member of the Vancouver Canucks). Thursday night also marked the first time in his NHL career he's registered a goal and an assist in the same game. Cracknell has skated in two games against Colorado in his career and has recorded one goal (1-0=1) and six shots. The native of Prince Albert, Sask. was signed by the Stars as a free agent on July 3, 2016 and has posted 29 points (12-17=29) in 135 NHL games with St. Louis, Columbus, Vancouver, Edmonton and Dallas.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
Stars forward Antoine Roussel posted two points (1-1=2) against the Ducks on Thursday night. Roussel recorded the 11th multi-point contest of his NHL career, his first since March 1, 2016 at Nashville (1-1=2). The forward also registered his 10th career game-winning goal and for the second consecutive season, recorded both his first goal and first game-winning goal of the season against the Ducks (last: Oct. 27, 2015 vs. Anaheim). He has points in four of his last five games (2-2=4) against the Avalanche, with all four of his career points against Colorado coming over that stretch. The native of Roubaix, France has 48 career goals and is the highest scoring Frenchman in NHL history. During the 2015-16 season, he recorded 29 points (13-16=29) in 80 games and was one of six NHL players to record at least 20 points and 100 penalty minutes. Additionally, he was one of two players to accomplish this feat in each of the last three seasons (other: Scott Hartnell).
IT'S A SHORE THING
Stars forward Devin Shore notched his first career NHL point (0-1=1) on Thursday night, assisting on Lauri Korpikoski's goal in the second period. Originally selected by Dallas in the second round (61st) in the 2012 NHL Draft, Shore made his NHL debut last season, posting a +2 plus/minus rating in three games with Dallas. The native of Ajax, Ont. earned 26 points (15-11=26) in 23 regular-season contests last season with the Texas Stars (AHL) and set a new Texas franchise record with goals in six consecutive games (7-4=11).