Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Tampa Bay Lightning (6:30pm CDT)
Three of seven goes down in Tampa tonight before the Stars make their way to Kansas City for another date with the Blues.
The preseason brings with it so many questions, and Lindy Ruff is hearing all of them right now.
Who will play with Benn and Seguin? Who will play with Hemsky and Spezza? Who will be the backup goaltender? Can Jokipakka force himself onto the roster, and who would suffer as a result?
"I'm not trying to answer any of those questions yet," Lindy Ruff said to media Thursday, in reference to Hemsky in particular. "To me, it's just giving everyone a chance to play."
They're all getting that, certainly, as Dallas continues to harbor a relatively large group into the second week of training camp. Ruff and company must prepare now for four games in five nights including this one in Tampa, a game tomorrow night in Kansas City, then back-to-back home tilts on Monday and Tuesday to round things out.
So how do you evaluate while keeping players fresh and not over-working anyone? That's the trick. For this b2b set it appears they'll use virtually completely independent lineups, spreading ice time across borders of states in addition to different veteran groups.
It would seem likely, however, that Trevor Daley, Brett Ritchie, Colton Sceviour and Val Nichushkin could finally make their preseason debuts this weekend after being held out of scrimmages due to minor injury precautions.
With no news on Brenden Dillon, the Stars have to start looking at other options despite not making any free agent acquisitions in the summer. They're confident, for the moment, that they have an abundance of young defensive prospects that are prepared for a challenge.
"There's a saying in this league that you can never have enough good defensemen," Ruff told media Saturday. "If the injuries start or a couple of guys struggle, you need guys to step in and play well for you."
With Nemeth, Oleksiak, Jokipakka and Klingberg all circling, prospective talent weighed against supposed ceilings at the time of the various drafts seems quite high. It's up to the staff to get them all the way there - something at which the Red Wings excelled while Jim Nill was in Detroit.
While other teams cut prospects the Stars are doing very little of the same, in order to get through the weekend.
"It's a split plan and, with back-to-back games, we want to use as many bodies as we can," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "We've got a lot of games here and we want to be sure we don't put too much on any one player."
The online video streams have been, to this point, a godsend and also a source of frustration for some. The guess is they could continue trying tonight, but as last time, we'll wait and see what the official word is before we stick our collective foot too far into our mouths. Continue to check back here for the latest.
Meanwhile, last night the Lightning fielded a fairly green lineup and started Palat, Panik, Kucherov, Namesnikov, Marchessault, Okinen, Kunyk, Brown, etc... While Nashville played Shea Weber, James Neal, Volchenkov, Roman Josi, Mike Ribeiro and Paul Gaustad. The result? A very Nashville/Phoenix like score of 1-0 in favor of Barry Trotz's team or whoever is coaching them these days.
We spoke about the Panthers in reference to the Edmonton Oilers... A team with a lot of high end talent via high draft picks.
The Lightning bear at least some resemblance as they wonder when one of their prized possessions will be back.
Two days after being diagnosed with a fractured right thumb, touted wing prospect Jonathan Drouin skated in practice Thursday morning, doing light stick-handling and shooting.
Drouin, expected to be out 3-4 weeks, knows he is "far away from where we want to be."
"A little step," he said. "Many more steps to come."
But Drouin, 19, was encouraged that Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said his injury won't impact the team's evaluation of the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft for a roster spot. [Tampa Bay.com]