Dallas Stars hockey is back. The Stars kick off their preseason schedule Tuesday night when they take on the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center.
The Stars will roll out a strong lineup against the Blues, including 15 possible roster players and 18 with NHL experience. Tonight's roster includes an expected top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, a group of six NHL defenseman and goaltender Ben Bishop, who is expected to play the first two periods of the game. Mike McKenna will play the third.
Stars coach Ken Hitchcock explained what he is looking for with tonight's lineup.
"I am not evaluating who is going to make the team. I want to look at some young guys to see if they deserve to keep playing and stay with us. That's more the focus," Hitchcock said. "As far as team play, it's too early. We are playing a good lineup and we will in the home games because people deserve it. They pay good money to come to the games. There's not much discount coming to exhibition games, so we better make it worth their while."
Players see the preseason games as a good opportunity to get used to a new system under a new coaching staff while working several new players into the mix.
Video: Janmark participates in morning skate
"[Preseason] is more important for us this year obviously with some of the changes that were made," Benn said. "We're going to try to win every game, get our systems down, and try to get on the same page."
"Every game is important," said defenseman Marc Methot, one of the team's key offseason acquisitions.
"Certainly with a team like ours, where we've picked up some new guys, we have a new coaching staff, we need to feel each other out and get used to all the plays and structure and what the coaches expect from you."
Methot is among the new Stars making their preseason debuts tonight. So will Bishop and forwards Alexander Radulov and Tyler Pitlick.
"Nervous a little bit," Methot said.
Hitchcock admitted some nerves as well. He hasn't coached a game since late January after being let go by St. Louis.
Video: Stars ready for preseason
"I don't want to be the worst player on the ice because I haven't coached for a little while," Hitchcock said. "I've got to remember names and make sure that I've got things right. As soon as I get rid of you guys, I can go and start thinking about names I've got to call. I probably know more names on the other team."
Mattias Janmark will get into his first game since missing all of last season due to a congenital knee condition that required surgery. These preseason games are big tests for Janmark as he tries to work his way back.
"It's a different feeling. I have been looking forward to it for a long time," Janmark said. "It's going to be fun. I don't know how it's going to turn out and how it's going to go. It's going to take some games to get into it."
Some top prospects will get a look as well. Denis Gurianov, Roope Hintz, and Nick Caamano will skate on a line together. Jason Dickinson will be in the lineup as well. St. Louis is playing a lineup with a lot of good young players, so this will be a good test for the Dallas kids.
"Caamano deserves a chance based on Traverse City [prospect tournament] and the prospects game that we played," Hitchcock said. "Hintz, Dickinson, and Gurianov have had good camps, so we want to reward them. But now it is up to them. They are going to play against good, young players [from St. Louis]. We've got a combination of a lot of young guys knocking on the door, and we want to see if our guys can hold their own."
Who: St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel - Jason Dickinson - Tyler Pitlick
Nick Caamano - Roope Hintz - Denis Gurianov
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Marc Methot - Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak - Julius Honka
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.