Last season, the Dallas Stars kept eight defensemen on their roster. For the first 20 games, head coach Lindy Ruff rolled out the same pairings regardless of result. This season, he’s taking a bit of a different approach as the Stars continue to carry eight blueliners, as he told Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
"I want to get everybody going," Ruff said. "It's not really based on play. I have eight defensemen I've used throughout the whole training camp. It will sort itself out. It's not easy for the two guys who are coming out [Nemeth and Benn], but at the same time that process usually works out where somebody will step up and really become a player that you don't want to take him out. But I feel all of these guys can play, and I don't want them sitting too long."
While Ruff made changes to the defensive pairings in the first three games this season, it seems he’s going to run with what worked Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators.
That means that Patrik Nemeth and Jordie Benn will be scratched again tonight. Defensive pairings should look like this for the second game in a row.
Dan Hamhuis - John Klingberg
Stephen Johns - Johnny Oduya
Esa Lindell - Jamie Oleksiak
Jiri Hudler is still recovering from his illness and remains out. Ales Hemsky is still not ready to play, so he will miss his fourth game to start the season. Forward lines should be the same as last game as well. If it’s working, why not?
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Jason Spezza
Patrick Sharp - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Lauri Korpiksoki
It would be nice to get Sharp going on the offensive end. With the way Shore has been playing these last few games, maybe being on his wing will get Sharp going a bit in the goal scoring department.
Kari Lehtonen is expected to get the start in net tonight, his second straight start.
1. Lindell and Oleksiak are the only two skaters on tonight’s roster that have yet to record a point this season.
2. The Stars have five players that have scored three points so far on the season:
Adam Cracknell (2G, 1A)
Tyler Seguin (2G, 1A)
Jamie Benn (1G, 2A)
Antoine Roussel (1G, 2A)
Patrick Eaves (0G, 3A)
3. Kari Lehtonen has a sparkling 1.5 GAA and a .951 SV% so far this season, allowing two goals on 41 shots faced so far. That’s the 3rd best save percentage in the league today. Yes, yes....we know, small sample sizes and all that jazz. But considering how last season ended, shouldn’t we celebrate sitting near the top of any goaltending statistic? (We’ll throw a sponsored party if the Stars goaltending ends anywhere in the top 10 at the end of the season.)
Odds & Ends
Valeri Nichushkin fought in the KHL last night. He threw a couple of good punches in there but also took quite a few too. I think he didn’t take kindly to that elbow to the face by the opposing team.
Also, here’s a little inspiration for lunch if you need it. (Or if you want to plan what you’re eating at the AAC tonight...or any game night from now until November 5th.)