Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ New York Islanders (6:00pm CDT)
The Stars will visit Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum for the last time Saturday night to take on the 5-2-0 Islanders.
The Dallas Stars moved to 4-1-2 on the season last night after defeating the New Jersey Devils in a 3-2 shootout- another lesson in patience and adversity on the road in the Eastern Conference.
The Stars have overcome a 2-0 deficit in Pittsburgh and a bit of a collapse after a 2-0 lead in Columbus to secure victories. Last night it was a controversial call on a goal that shouldn't have counted in the third period that challenged their composure, and Jason Spezza liked the coaching staff's response.
"The coach sets the tone there, and that's what Lindy did," Spezza told media after the game. "The whole rink knows they got the call wrong, and I'm sure the refs know they got it wrong once they see it. It's a little bit silly that they can't overturn it. But Lindy showing his composure makes us show our composure."
Dallas moves to a .714 points percentage through seven games- Good for fifth in the West. Of course, Calgary is sixth, so it's a little early for all of that.
Speculation was rampant that Ruff would go back to Spezza and Hemsky on a second line, but after some experimentation in practice he reunited Seguin, Benn and Spezza and won another game. Fluctuation between those options will remain a possibility tonight.
On the other hand, if the Stars continue to see strong play out of Erik Cole with Colton Sceviour and Shawn Horcoff then the "super line" staying together becomes more affordable to the Stars coaching staff. Ales Hemsky, too, showed some encouraging signs of life last night.
After all of our concern about the Stars having to adjust their game against a "low event" team in the New Jersey Devils, the style last night may have acted as a reasonably effective governor, preventing some of the wildness seen against the Flyers and Canucks at home. The Stars still generated a reasonable number of quality chances anyway.
Tonight they'll meet an opponent that's anything but "low event" in the 5-2-0 Islanders. New York is third in the league in shots-for at over 34 per game, and they allow a hair over 30 as well. It will be a little more wide-open from the get-go.
These teams, as of this morning, represent the #3 and #4 highest scoring teams in the league.
The Stars were 4-8-1 on the second night of a back-to-back last season, making the playoffs in spite of it. Backup netminding has been the main topic of conversation around poor numbers in those scenarios for a number of seasons. Anders Lindback will likely get a chance to begin the process of altering perceptions this evening. It's a pretty tough spot for him, though.
The Islanders have a top-ten power play and began the season converting 5 of their first 12 chances. Playing a disciplined road game, as usual, should be an area of intense focus for Dallas tonight. New York possesses some very nice weapons.
Grabovski should return to the lineup after missing time with a concussion, but they lost forward Josh Bailey in their last outing to a broken hand.
Jaroslav Halak is expected to be in net. He's 4-5-0 in his career against Dallas with a .896 save percentage and a 2.73 GAA.
From Stars PR:
GOODBYE NASSAU COLISEUM... WE LOVE YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE
The game on Saturday night at Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum will be the 54th and final time the Stars franchise visits the historic arena before the Islanders move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season. The Minnesota North Stars first played at the Coliseum on Dec. 23, 1972 in a 2-4 loss with a team that featured franchise icons Bill Goldsworthy, Cesare Maniago, Gump Worsley and Lou Nanne. No Stars player in franchise history has posted more points than Mike Modano, who had 15 points (7-8=15) on Long Island. Neal Broten has the most goals (8), while Bobby Smith has the most assists (9) at the arena. The most goals the Stars have ever scored at Nassau as a team is eight, when the two teams tied 8-8 on Nov. 23, 1982. It's also the most cumulative goals the two teams have posted against each other on the Island. Overall, the Stars enter Saturday's game with an 18-26-9 record at the Coliseum.