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Stars' depth players to get closer look at Avalanche

With open spots limited, Montgomery says Dallas is 'looking for players who want to make this team who are relentless'

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche

Tonight, 8 p.m. CT

Where: Pepsi Center (Denver)

Audio stream: Avalanche Radio Network

Follow LIVE: NHL GameCenter

 

The skinny

Video: Jim Montgomery wants Stars to be relentless vs. Avs

The Stars continue to look at depth players as they work their way through the road portion of the preseason schedule.

With Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov yet to play an exhibition game this season, we'll get more looks at players like Stefan Noesen, Scottie Upshall, Justin Dowling and Joel Kiviranta. Noesen and Upshall are trying to earn contracts, so they need as much exposure as they can get. Kiviranta and Dowling are hoping to make the opening night roster, so they also welcome the games.

Stars coach Jim Montgomery was asked specifically about Kiviranta, but made a statement that applies to a lot of players.

"I just want to see him continue to hunt pucks and be relentless. I haven't felt that we've been relentless as a team yet, and we're looking for players who want to make this team who are relentless," Montgomery said. "He plays a relentless game from what I've seen in the first game, and hopefully he can build upon that and improve upon that."

As for Noesen and Upshall, who are on professional tryout contracts, Montgomery said: "We want to make good decisions on him and Scottie Upshall. They're veteran players who are trying to make the team and we're giving them every opportunity to make the team."

 

What to watch

Video: Bayreuther ready to play his game against Colorado

We've been hammering the battle for the forward spot during preseason, but there also is a spot open on defense. With Stephen Johns sidelined again, the seventh defenseman spot is wide open, and a ton of defensemen are battling to start the season in the NHL.

Taylor Fedun might have a head start, but Gavin Bayreuther and Joel Hanley are also in the mix after playing with the Stars last season. All three will be in the game tonight, along with Emil Djuse, so there is evaluation at all times.

 

[READ MORE: When anything can happen in preseason, Stars on bubble stay in moment]

 

"They're always someone watching," Bayreuther said of how he has to approach the time he spends on the ice in any capacity. "You always have to put your best foot forward.

The battle for the third goalie also will be raging all year. Landon Bow and Colton Point each had great games in a 2-1 OT win at Minnesota Tuesday. Now, Jake Oettinger gets the chance to show what he can do. Oetting will play the first two periods, and Bow the third, meaning Bow also gets the chance to finish a game after starting on Tuesday.

 

By the numbers

Video: Felhaber looks to continue success from Traverse City

 
223

That's the number of NHL games played by Valeri Nichushkin, who will be in the lineup for the Avalanche. The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nishuchkin, who was scheduled to make $2.95 million this season, was bought out by the Stars in the summer and signed a one-year deal with Colorado for $850,000. He had no goals and 10 assists in 57 games last season.

 

89

That's the amount of NHL games played by Taylor Fedun (54), Gavin Bayreuther (19) and Joel Hanley (16) last season. Dallas used 14 different defensemen because of injuries, and the experience for those players will help create a battle to be in the NHL mix this season.

 

30

That's the amount of points (15 goals, 15 assists) for Radek Faksa in 81 games last season. Faksa has three straight seasons of 30 or more points, and would like to exceed his career best of 33 points in a season.

 

He said it

"We've got to be 99 percent sure now. I like the rule, because now it's do it for the obvious ones. The ones that are like a back leg is up in the air that take away a goal, we need more goals in hockey, so I'm all for this. I don't like to slow the game down either. The less challenges, the better. It might be more challenges here early as us coaches get used to it, but I think the games will speed up."

-- Stars coach Jim Montgomery on how his team is looking at new replay rule changes that have harsher punishments for bad challenges

 

Projected Stars lineup

Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Stefan Noesen

Joel Kiviranta - Justin Dowling - Jason Dickisnon

Riley Tufte - Joel L'Esperance - Michael Mersch

Tye Felhaber - Rhett Gardner - Scottie Upshall

Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun

Gavin Bayreuther - Joel Hanley

Thomas Harley - Emil Djuse

Jake Oettinger

Landon Bow

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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