Come for Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, stay for the emergence of Stephen Johns. Turn out for Jiri Hudler after a stellar preseason performance and appreciate instead Adam Cracknell and Lauri Korpokoski.
That's the kind of start the Dallas Stars have manufactured. Eight defensemen, two goaltenders and thirteen forwards have played through three games of largely positive results, but a mixed bag will continue while head coach Lindy Ruff learns how to pull the levers on his updated machine.
The Stars narrowly escaped what is quickly becoming a tough place to play in Nashville with the full two points thanks to a Jason Spezza tally that gave the good guys a 2-1 win. That restores confidence within and without after the Avalanche carved them to pieces on Saturday, but the schedule is no less forgiving as a result- The Los Angeles Kings visit tonight.
Lindy Ruff is expected to present something very similar to game number three tonight as the squad returns home:
Johnny Oduya had a maintenance day and did not skate, leaving the defense a little more of a mystery. There were calls Tuesday night to leave things as-is, though it's not clear what Ruff thought of Esa Lindell's performance and Patrik Nemeth had played well and could come back in. Eight healthy bodies and no clear scratches, necessarily, is not a bad problem to have.
Jiri Hudler is still battling his illness and is expected to miss his second straight.
With Lindy Ruff's high praise of Kari Lehtonen's work and the survival of the second period Tuesday in Nashville he would seem to be a lock between the pipes this evening. The pendulum has already swung on the goaltenders and they're three games in- Never a dull moment.
A glance at Los Angeles' 0-3-0 record and their injury report may have the casual observer salivating at such a disadvantaged opponent. This would probably be a foolish notion.
Sure, Jonathan Quick is hurt for a few months, sure the Kings are winless, and sure, they've scored six total goals in their first nine periods of hockey- They're also a team full of Stanley Cup Champions that leads the league in even-strength puck possession at a 56.37% Corsi number, which isn't even close to the nearest competition.
That they're due for a little PDO/luck adjustment and some offense is axiomatic. Whether or not it happens tonight is up the Dallas Stars and Lindy Ruff, but don't mistake the Kings for a team in decline. They have a 6.79 shooting percentage and a lot to prove this evening.
A trip to San Jose to open the season ended in a 2-1 loss. Their home opener saw the Flyers come to Staples and take a 4-2 decision. Then the Minnesota Wild spanked them, at least on the scoreboard, 6-3 up north on Tuesday.
They'll look a little different to you, but the core is intact. Gone is Vincent Lecavalier, Milan Lucic (allegedly chose to sign and live in Edmonton, presumably to escape the ravages of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election), Kris Verteeg, Jamie McBain and Luke schenn.
They added Teddy Purcell up front and Tom Gilbert and Zach Trotman on the back-end, with Jeff Zatkoff returning to them in goal to backup Quick.
Zatkoff had been drafted into the Los Angeles system but left as a free agent to the Penguins, where he made 14 appearances last season posting a 4-7-1 record. This off-season he returned to Los Angeles on a two-way deal and now finds himself front and center after Quick's injury. Peter Budaj is in the mix with the NHL club now, while former Dallas Star Jack Campbell moves into a starting role with the AHL's "Ontario Reign" in Southern California.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT- Devin Setoguchi has scored approximately 83%** of his NHL goals on the southern goal at American Airlines Center. Treat wtih extreme caution.
**Figure is no way factually substantiated and is rather a figment of the author's biased perception.
As another public service to you, dear DBD reader, I'll bring to you this snippet from an NHL.com season preview:
The Los Angeles Kings are trying to keep their Stanley Cup championship window open. But at the start of this season, it seems like that window is being propped up by a twig.
That's alluding to the Marian Gaborik injury sustained at the World Cup- Pretty much one of the only examples of a non-Dallas-Stars injury at the event. He's expected to miss another month at least.
From Stars PR, making the best Cracknell pun you're bound to see this year-
BENN THERE BEFORE
Stars captain Jamie Benn is tied for the team-lead with three points (1-2=3) in three games this season. Benn ranks third on the club and leads all forwards with 19:12 TOI/G. 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. The native of Victoria, B.C. 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. Over his NHL career, the forward has 27 points (11-16=27) in 32 games against the Kings, which is tied for his most points recorded in his career against any opponent (other: 27 points vs. San Jose). His 32 games against Los Angeles are the most he's played in his career versus any opponent. Over his last 10 games against the Kings, the captain has tallied 12 points (4-8=12).
SNAP, CRACKNELL, POP
Stars forward Adam Cracknell notched the first goal of the game (1-0=1) against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. He logged 8:38 time on ice against Nashville, recording a goal, five shots and going from 4-for-6 (66.7%) from the faceoff dot. Through three games this season, Cracknell is tied for the team lead in goals (2) and points (3), while also leading the team in shots on goal (9) and hits (8). In his first game as a member of the Dallas Stars on Oct. 13 vs. Anaheim, he recorded two points (1-1=2) and tied his career-high for points in a game along with recording the fourth multi-point game of his career (last: 2 assists on Dec. 7, 2015 vs. Buffalo as a member of the Vancouver Canucks). The contest also marked the first time in his NHL career he's registered a goal and an assist in the same game. The native of Prince Albert, Sask. was signed by the Stars as a free agent on July 3, 2016 and has posted 30 points (13-17=30) in 137 NHL games with St. Louis, Columbus, Vancouver, Edmonton and Dallas. Cracknell has two points (1-1=2) in seven career games against Los Angeles.
ROUS IS ON THE LOOSE
Stars forward Antoine Roussel posted an assist (0-1=1) against the Predators and has points in two of his three contests this season (1-2=3). With the assist against Nashville, the native of Roubaix, France now has 100 career points (48-52=100) in 283 games and is the highest scoring Frenchman in NHL history. In his first game of the 2016-17 season against Anaheim on Oct. 13, he recorded the 11th multi-point contest of his NHL career. 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). During the 2015-16 season, he 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). In 14 career games against the Kings, Roussel has four points (2-2=4).