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Staying in moment is Stars' only focus against Blues

Dallas seeks first win as it returns to site of heartbreaking Game 7 loss last postseason

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
Dallas Stars (0-1-0) at St. Louis Blues (0-0-1)

Tonight, 7 p.m.

Where: Enterprise Center, St. Louis

TV: FOX Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM, 96.7-FM

 

The skinny

Video: Stars roll out lineup tweaks before facing Blues

There's a lot to digest for this one.

The Stars are returning to the site of their Game 7, double-OT loss in the playoffs last year, so there are certain memories attached. They have called up four players from the AHL after suffering three injuries in their first game, and they will be juggling lines all over the place. And, they really want to get their first win of the season as they try to navigate an incredibly difficult schedule that started with a loss to Boston on opening night, continues Saturday against the defending Stanley Cup champions, heads to Detroit for a back-to-back game Sunday and then moves to Washington to face the talented Capitals on Tuesday.

They really do have to stay focused in the moment, because trying to look at the big picture is a bit overwhelming.

Stars coach Jim Montgomery moved center Radek Faksa from the checking line to the top line and is moving Tyler Seguin from center to right wing on the top line. He then will move Joe Pavelski to the left wing (he plays all three forward positions, but that is the one he plays the least) with Roope Hintz and Alexander Radulov.

"We wanted to go with two lines and we liked how Faksa had a good camp and just wanted to give him the opportunity to play with those two and drive play a little bit," Montgomery said.

 

[READ MORE: With early injuries adding up, Stars turn to AHL reinforcements]

 

Faksa said he embraces the opportunity.

"It's a great chance," Faksa said. "You get to play with the top players on the team and that should be fun. I'll try to do my best, play my hockey and not try to do anything else I did before."

Faksa said he has not played much with Seguin at all and played maybe a couple of games last season with Benn. He has typically been on a line with Andrew Cogliano and Blake Comeau, but the injuries in Game 1 are forcing a lot of changes.

Comeau suffered a lower body injury and is out several weeks. Jason Dickinson suffered an upper body injury and is out at least a week. Defenseman Roman Polak suffered a sternum injury and is out at least a week, as well. The Stars have called up Nick Caamano, Rhett Gardner, Joel L'Esperance and Joel Hanley. Caamano and Gardner will make their NHL debuts Saturday, while L'Esperance and Hanley are flying to St. Louis after playing Friday in Cedar Park and should be available for Sunday's game in Detroit.

Montgomery has the third line as Mattias Janmark-Justin Dowling-Denis Gurianov and the fourth line as Cogliano-Gardner-Caamano.

 

What to watch

Both Gardner and Caamano are excited about their NHL debuts.

Gardner's dad, mom and sister are flying in from Moose Jaw via Calgary and will be in attendance. Caamano's family and friends are driving to Detroit from Ontario and will see him play against the Red Wings.

Both players have been solid defensively in Traverse City and during the preseason. This is Gardner's first full camp as he played four seasons with the University of North Dakota. He's 23, so he said he believes that having that maturity should help, and said being one of the last cuts also helps.

"It's nice going so deep in camp, because you really felt a part of the team by the end of it," he said. "I think my pace and habits are still at the NHL level since I was sent down just six days ago."

 

[GAME DAY GUIDE: How to watch, live stream Stars vs. Blues]

 

Caamano served as captain of the Stars prospect team in Traverse City, Mich., and also has a year of AHL experience under his belt, so he said he also feels prepared.

"I thought I had a good camp, and I just think if I can continue to do what I did in training camp here, then I can find success here," Caamano said. "Believing in yourself and believing in your capabilities is huge, but every year I come here I want to just get better and better."

Gardner played at the end of the season with the Texas Stars last spring and he and Caamano became friend. They live in the same apartment building and hang out every day, Caamano said.

"It's nice to see each other when we're going through this together," Caamano said.

Taylor Fedun will step in on defense for Polak and will play on the third pairing with Jamie Oleksiak. Fedun, 31, has played in 100 NHL regular season games, including 54 with the Stars last season.

 

By the numbers

Video: Bishop on emotions of Stars returning to St. Louis

 
39

That's the number of points Jamie Benn has in 39 regular season games against the Blues (19 goals, 20 assists). He also is plus-14 in that span.

 

28.6

That's the amount of shots on goal against the Blues yielded per game last season, third best in the NHL. Dallas was 20th in shots on goal per game at 30.7

 

1st

That's where Ben Bishop and Jordan Binnington ranked in goaltending statistics last season. Bishop led the NHL in save percentage at .934, while Binnington led the NHL in goals against at average at 1.89. Bishop was second in GAA at 1.98 and Binnington was fourth in save percentage at .927. Binnington was called up mid-season from the minors and went 24-5-2, and then went on to win the Stanley Cup in the playoffs.

 

He said it

"You just move on, that's what you've got to do. You can't create memories off that. You move on, that's about it."

-- Stars defenseman John Klingberg when asked if it is strange to be in the building where they lost Game 7 in double overtime in the playoffs last season.

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Tyler Seguin

Joe Pavelski - Roope Hintz - Alexander Radulov

Mattias Janmark - Justin Dowling - Denis Gurianov

Andrew Cogliano - Rhett Gardner - Nick Caamano

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg

Miro Heiskanen - Andrej Sekera

Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: C Joel L'Esperance, D Joel Hanley

Injured: LW Blake Comeau (lower body) is out; C Jason Dickinson (upper body) is out; D Roman Polak (sternum) is out; RW Corey Perry (foot) is out; D Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches) is out; C Martin Hanzal (back) is out

 

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Vladimir Tarasenko

Sammy Blais - Ryan O'Reilly - David Perron

Robby Fabbri - Tyler Bozak - Zach Sanford

Ivan Barbashev - Oskar Sundqvist - Alexander Steen

Carl Gunnarson - Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn - Justin Faulk

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, MacKenzie MacEachern

Injured: Robert Thomas (upper body)

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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