In the words of Eminem, “Guess who’s back, back again?” That’s right, the Dallas Stars have returned for another season. Ah yes. It’s that time of year again. Our favorite sport played on a sheet of ice is back. And it’s back in front of a live studio audience (poor attempt at sitcom humor there). After one of the craziest calendar year in all of sports in which very few people were allowed to watch games in person, this year should be quite different.
Arenas all over, including the American Airlines Center, will welcome fans back in droves as they try to return to some sense of normalcy. We won’t know how much not having fans impacted teams last year from an on-ice perspective. Obviously, we can figure out the impact it had financially was immense without even seeing the math.
The Dallas Stars will take to the ice on the road to start the season. There are still some loose-ended questions that we don’t know the answers to. Will we see Ben Bishop play again in a Stars jersey? How is Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov health-wise? Can they stay healthy this season? What about Roope Hintz? Does Miro Heiskanen finally start getting the national recognition he deserves? What does the goalie rotation look like? So many questions and not enough answers. The good thing, though: we should start being able to draw some conclusions for those answers tonight.
DALLAS STARS LINEUP
At practice yesterday, traveling media reported that forwards Jason Robertson and Blake Comeau did not travel with the team due to upper-body injuries. Comeau was placed on IR retroactive to October 7th (meaning he’ll be eligible to return as early as game two on Saturday), clearing the way for a forward call-up if needed.
Both Jacob Peterson and Joel Kiviranta had already been recalled on Tuesday, the day after the team submitted their opening day roster that was cap compliant. Alexander Radulov was held out of practice on Wednesday due to a non-COVID illness, and the coaching staff indicated they “hope” he’s ready to play tonight.
Assuming Radulov is good to go, here’s how the lines should be constructed to start the game:
Jamie Benn (14) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Alexander Radulov (47)
Jacob Peterson (40) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Michael Raffl (18) – Radek Faksa (12) – Denis Guirianov (34)
Tanner Kero (64) – Luke Glendening (11) – Joel Kiviranta (25)
Ryan Suter (20) – John Klingberg (3)
Esa Lindell (23) – Miro Heiskanen (4)
Andrej Sekera (5) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Braden Holtby (70)
Anton Khudobin (35)
THE NEW YORK RANGERS
In the shortened season last year, the Rangers finished with 60 points (27-23-6) which put them 5th in the East Division. New York was led in points by Artemi Panarin (58) and in goals by Mika Zibanejad (24). In the crease, Igor Shesterkin led the team with 35 games played, boasting a 2.62 goals against average and a .916 save percentage.
During the offseason, the Rangers gave Zibanejad an eight-year contract extension worth $8.5 million per season. There’s a lot of talk that they may be in the hunt to bring on Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres as well. The Rangers are in a super-competitive Metro division which features the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers.
The Stars may be lucky in another way; not only has the team not traded for a healthy-and-ready-to-play Eichel yet, they are catching the Rangers on the second night of a back-to-back. The Rangers opened their season against the Capitals last night, getting trounced 5-1 while Alexander Ovechkin scored two goals in front of his home crowd. Granted, travel in the East is vastly different from travel in the West, but it’s still a short turnaround for a game at home tonight.
NEW YORK RANGERS LINEUP
Alexis Lafreniere (13) – Mika Zibanejad (93) – Chris Kreider (20)
Artemi Panarin (10) – Ryan Strome (16) – Kaapo Kakko (24)
Samuel Blais (91) – Filip Chytil (72) – Barclay Goodrow (21)
Dryden Hunt (29) – Kevin Rooney (17) – Ryan Reaves (75)
Ryan Lindgren (55) – Adam Fox (23)
K’Andre Miller (79) – Jacob Trouba (8)
Jarred Tinordi (5) – Patrik Nemeth (12)
Igor Shesterkin (31)
Alexander Georgiev (40)