Going 82-0 obviously isn’t a thing that happens in the NHL.
So the Dallas Stars won’t be the first team to accomplish that record. After starting the season with back-to-back wins, the Toronto Maple Leafs put up a 7-spot on them for their first loss of the year. The key will be avoiding long losing streaks - something the Stars can accomplish today when the Anaheim Ducks come to town.
The Ducks have started the season with a 3-0-1 record, probably surprising people who expected the Ducks to stumble out of the gate given their injuries. Ryan Miller has not played a game yet this year but likely will this weekend as the Ducks kick off a back-to-back set with the Stars tonight and the St. Louis Blues tomorrow.
After another game in which the only Stars players scoring were the Big 4 - Alexander Radulov, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and John Klingberg - head coach Jim Montgomery juggled the bottom three lines in order to try to spark some offense outside of the top line. Here’s the expected forward lines tonight based on practice yesterday:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Valeri Nichushkin - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Jason Dickinson - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Mattias Janmark - Devin Shore - Blake Comeau
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Connor Carrick
Marc Methot - Julius Honka
Gemel Smith, Roope Hintz and Roman Polak are the expected scratches. Ben Bishop the expected starter tonight. Anton Khudobin will likely draw into a game for the Stars for the first time this season when they go on their first road trip and have their first back-to-back early next week.
Outside of depth signings on shorter contracts, the biggest move the Anaheim Ducks made this offseason was giving center Adam Henrique a five year contract extension. They weren’t big players in the marquee free agent signings, opting for a bit of a youth movement instead.
They’ve also been hit by the injury bug early to start this season.
Corey Perry tore his meniscus and MCL at the end of September and will be out for five months, so Anaheim won’t see him until at least early March. Due back sooner, Korbinian Holzer had wrist surgery in the offseason and has a timetable of return in December, though he could be back sooner. That’s really pertinent for Stars fans as a weird quirk in the scheduling sees Dallas take on Anaheim three times before the end of the year - the only three regular season match-ups between the two teams this season.
Patrick Eaves, the ex-Star that fans have a soft spot for, is skating again after a health scare that had him misdiagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome but was actually post-viral syndrome. He is also recovering from a shoulder injury so is not in the lineup tonight. Ryan Getzlaf is dealing with a groin injury and is not on this two game road trip. Ondrej Kase remains out with a concussion. Ryan Kesler has been cleared to play after undergoing offseason hip surgery, so some of their injury problems are starting to clear up.
Nick Ritchie remains out of the lineup as the RFA does not have a contract for this season yet.
The Ducks juggled their lines as well yesterday in practice after a shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes, with head coach Randy Carlyle loading his top two lines with those players that are firing offensively instead of having it balanced as they had in the first four games of the season. It’ll be interesting to see how they do against a Dallas team did the same thing for the opposite reason (searching for balanced scoring).
Here’s the expected lineup tonight:
Max Comtois - Adam Henrique - Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Rickard Rakell
Isac Lundestrom - Sam Steel - Kiefer Sherwood
Ben Street - Carter Rowney - Brian Gibbons
Cam Fowler – Josh Manson
Hampus Lindholm – Brandon Montour
Marcus Pettersson – Luke Schenn
With the Ducks playing the St. Louis Blues tomorrow, each of their goaltenders are likely to start a game.
John Gibson has been on fire to start the season, posting a sparkling .955 save percentage and 1.44 goals against average through four games. Which one will get the Star versus Dallas and which will go with the Blues? We’re likely to have to wait until morning skate to determine that, but if I had to guess Dallas gets Miller due to their lack of depth scoring and Gibson goes against the Blues behind a tired team playing a deeper forward group. But I’m not a coach, so it could easily be the other way around.
How To Watch
Radio: 1310 AM / 96.7 FM The Ticket
Stream: Fox Sports Go app