NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, October 3rd
(All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (0-0-0) at Dallas Stars (0-0-0), 8:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars will unveil their new look in the
regular season for the first time on Thursday night when they play host to the
It was an offseason of change for the Stars, who missed the playoffs for a
fifth straight year last season. They hired a new general manager in Jim Nill
and brought in Lindy Ruff to be the new head coach.
Ruff, former longtime head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, is the 22nd head coach
in club history and seventh since the club relocated to Dallas. He is the
12th-winningest head coach in league history and one of only 17 to reach the
The 53-year-old will get an early chance to impress the home crowd as the
Stars play two straight in Dallas to begin the season before playing five of
six on the road.
"I'm psyched. I can't wait. I am disappointed that we have one more night to
go. It's fun. You have that anxiety to get it going," Ruff told the Stars'
official website of opening the season. "It's not just another game. It's the
start of something really new. It's something really exciting. I don't look at
it as just another game. It's a lot of different guys that we've put together
and a lot of guys that have gotten along well together as a team. I am excited
to see that develop."
In addition to new uniforms and logos, Dallas will have plenty of fresh faces
on the ice. The Stars swung a deal with the Boston Bruins on July 4 to get
talented but controversial forward Tyler Seguin as well as veteran Rich
Peverley for a package of players that included NHLer Loui Eriksson.
Dallas also traded for another veteran in center Shawn Horcoff and added the
39-year Sergei Gonchar to the blue line.
Forward Valeri Nichushkin, the 10th overall pick of the 2013 draft, is also
expected to debut tonight, while Jaime Benn will play his first game as the
club's captain. He led the Stars with 33 points in 41 games last season.
Dallas has won each of its last three home openers and is 11-0-3 in its last
14 such games. Kari Lehtonen is likely to get the start in net to try and
extend that streak after going 15-14-3 with a 2.66 goals against average and
.916 save percentage in 36 appearances last campaign.
Ruff is also expected to have defenseman Trevor Daley in the lineup tonight as
he returns from neck surgery, though Peverley isn't likely to play until the
weekend because of an irregular heartbeat.
Defenseman Aaron Rome is a few weeks away from returning from hip surgery.
The Florida Panthers begin their 20th anniversary season on a four-game road
trip and less than a week after being sold to businessman Vincent Viola. The
Panthers added several veterans after the sale, including goaltender Tim
Thomas will get the start tonight, his first NHL action since April 25, 2012
during the postseason with Boston. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner had a ton
of success with the Bruins from 2002-12, winning a Stanley Cup with the club,
but took a leave of absence from the league last year.
"I think there's a positive energy," said the 39-year-old Thomas. "They're
really looking forward to growing and getting better in the organization. I
think new ownership brought a very positive direction to the team."
The Panthers were in need of goaltending help due to knee surgery undergone by
Scott Clemmensen. He begins the season on injured reserve, while captain Ed
Jovanovski (hip surgery) and forward Sean Bergenheim (hip/abdominal surgery)
are also out.
The Panthers snapped a 10-season playoff drought in the spring of 2012, but
finished dead last in the league a season ago. They struggled at both ends of
the ice, but have a host of young talent to build on.
That includes left winger Jonathan Huberdeau, last season's Calder Trophy
winner who ended the season tied for the lead in rookie scoring with 31 points
on 14 goals and 17 assists. He'll be joined on opening night by 18-year-old
forward Aleksander Barkov, the second overall pick of the 2013 draft.
Dmitry Kulikov, 22, and 21-year-old Erik Gudbranson off youth at the blue line
alongside veterans Brian Campbell and eventually Jovanovski.
The Panthers have won three of their last four versus the Stars, claiming a
6-0 road victory in the last meeting on Nov. 15, 2011. Clemmensen stopped all
25 shots he faced.
Florida has won three straight and five of its last six in Dallas, having not
lost there since Dec. 7, 2005.
10/03 14:31:20 ET