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'Excited' Stars expect tough test out of gate from Bruins

The defending Eastern Conference champs provide a unique challenge for Dallas to open the regular season

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
Dallas Stars vs. Boston Bruins

Tonight, 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: American Airlines Center

TV/radio: FS-SW; KTCK 1310-AM, 96.7-FM

 

The skinny

Video: Montgomery, Stars ready for opening night

The Stars get two great tests right off the hop, playing the Stanley Cup finalists (Boston at home Thursday and at St. Louis Saturday) in the first two games. Boston is again one of the teams that many people believe will challenge for the Stanley Cup this season, and the Bruins have been a handful for the Stars in the past.

Dallas is 35-80-24 all-time against Boston, but went 1-0-1 last season.

Every game against the Bruins will bring a focus on Tyler Seguin. The Stars acquired the talented center from Boston in 2013, and he has been the fifth leading scorer in the NHL since that time with 464 points (206 goals, 258 assists) in 469 games. He also is second in the league in that span in shots on goal at 1,822.

Seguin said games against the Bruins are always fun, but that playing them in the season opener also gives him some perspective on the timeline of his career.

 

[READ MORE: Get to know the 2019-20 Stars with our complete opening night roster breakdown]

 

"This year, it's special just realizing that it's been seven years," Seguin said of his time with the Stars. "This is my 10th season. That's what I thought about last night. In the past, I kind of had that nerve or anger or whatever you want to call it going against the B's, but now, it's more a reflection for me.

"You're excited about the home opener and you realize it's been a long time (since the trade), and a long career, and I'm happy with where I'm at."

Seguin has tallied nine points (five goals, four assists) in 12 career games against the Bruins.

Linemate Jamie Benn has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 14 career games against the Bruins, while free-agent signing Joe Pavelski has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games against Boston.

That line should be fun to watch.

 

What to watch

Video: Klingberg says Stars aren't looking past first game

While this Stars team is returning most of its core intact, there still are a lot of moving parts.

Pavelski will start out on the top line with Benn and Seguin. That trio looked good in the third period of the final preseason game, and there is hope they can continue to build chemistry.

Tweet from @jpav8: New chapter starts tonight! Lets go @DallasStars pic.twitter.com/0em5ZiOG6d

The second line then becomes one where youngsters Roope Hintz and Jason Dickinson combine with veteran Alexander Radulov to offer some speed and potential depth scoring behind the top line.

On paper, it all makes sense and addresses needs the team talked about in the offseason, but they still have to do it on the ice. The Stars would like to improve a shots on goal average of 30.7 that ranked 20th in the NHL last season and a goals per game average of 2.55 that ranked 28th. They also would like to increase a power play opportunity total of 214 that ranked 29th.

"On the ice, we want to be cleaner and quicker through the neutral zone and establish more (offensive) zone possession time," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said.

The addition of free agent Andrej Sekera on defense also allows coaches to shuffle pairs more. Watch for Miro Heiskanen to start out with Sekera on the second pairing, but then possibly move around in different roles throughout the game.

 

By the numbers

Video: Dowling ready for first opening night with Stars

2.44 

That's the amount of goals against per game the Stars allowed last season, ranking second in the NHL. The Bruins were third with a team GAA of 2.59.

 

17

That's the amount of points (eight goals, nine assists) that Brad Marchand has in 13 career games against the Stars. Linemate Patrice Bergeron has 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 19 games, and goalie Tuukka Rask is 7-2-2 in his career against Dallas with a 2.04 GAA and .936 save percentage.

 

15

That's the amount of shorthanded goals that Boston allowed last season, tied for most in the NHL. Dallas was 29th in scoring shorthanded goals with four.

 

He said it

Video: Stars ready to battle Bruins in regular season opener

"We've got two No. 1 power plays, they're each getting a minute. I said to the group yesterday 'When we go to 4-on-3 or 5-on-3 situations, you're not going to be given it.' It's the guys that are playing (well) that night, because we have a lot of weapons."

-- Stars coach Jim Montgomery on the fact he will be playing Radulov and Heiskanen on the second power-play unit.

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Joe Pavelski

Jason Dickinson - Roope Hintz - Alexander Radulov

Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau

Mattias Janmark - Justin Dowling - Denis Gurianov

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen - Andrej Sekera

Jamie Oleksiak - Roman Polak

Ben Bishop 

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: D Taylor Fedun.

Injuries: RW Corey Perry (foot) is out; D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches) is out; C Martin Hanzal (back) is out.

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Karson Kuhlman

Danton Heinen - Charlie Coyle - David Backes

Sean Kuraly - Par Lindholm - Chris Wagner

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: RW Brett Ritchie, D Steven Kampfer

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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