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Stars-Ducks Preview

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars
Thursday, October 13
7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Dallas Stars will have a different look to start this season. Ten players on this season's opening night roster were not on the team one year ago. Veteran defenseman Dan Hamhuis and veteran forward Jiri Hudler were the team's key offseason acquisitions. And the Stars will inject a lot of youth into the lineup as well.

"I am excited about the roster," said Stars captain Jamie Benn. "We brought in some good players and some guys are going to have to play some bigger roles this year. We want to continue to have some good team success."

The Stars are coming off a 2015-16 season that saw them finish with the best record in the Western Conference and win a playoff round for the first time since 2008. They will look to build on that this season.

"We've been getting better and better, and winning last year the expectations should be high," said center Tyler Seguin.

Seguin, who missed the preseason with a heel injury, is ready to go for the season opener. The Stars will be without forwards Ales Hemsky (groin), Cody Eakin (knee) and Mattias Janmark (knee). Eakin is out until early November, and Janmark is not expected back until the spring. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (lower body/muscle strain) is not available for Thursday as well.

Goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi will split time in goal again this season, but who gets the nod on Thursday night is not known.

Injuries: D Jamie Oleksiak (lower body/muscle strain) is out. RW Ales Hemsky (groin), C Cody Eakin (knee) and C/LW Mattias Janmark (knee) are on injured reserve.

Video: Jamie Benn and Lindy Ruff discuss opening night

About the Ducks

After getting bounced from the first round of last season's playoffs the Ducks made a coaching change, firing Bruce Boudreau and bringing back Randy Carlyle, who led Anaheim to a Stanley Cup in 2007.

The Ducks have undergone some offseason personnel changes, including dealing goaltender Frederik Andersen to Toronto and then acquiring goaltender Jonathan Bernier from Toronto in a separate deal. Bernier and John Gibson will be Anaheim's goaltenders this season.

Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are expected to continue to anchor top line. Joining them in recent practices has been Nick Ritchie, younger brother of Stars forward Brett Ritchie.

The Ducks, who begin the season with a five-game road trip, practiced at American Airlines Center Wednesday.

"We've all come together for the last month or so and gotten through a tough training camp," defenseman Cam Fowler told the Ducks official site. "It's an exciting time and hopefully the start of good things to come. As you go along, you get more comfortable and start gearing up for game one."

The Ducks will be without two key players due to contract issues. Forward Rickard Rakell and defenseman Hamphus Lindholm, who both are restricted free agents, have not come to terms with the team.  

Injuries: LW Nicolas Kerdiles (concussion-like symptoms) and C Nate Thompson (Achilles) are on injured reserve.

Season Series

*This is the first of three meetings between the Stars and Ducks this season.

*The Stars were 1-2-0 vs. Anaheim last season.

*The Stars are 4-4-1 vs. Anaheim over the past three seasons.

*The Stars are 4-1-1 in their past six season openers.

Statistical Tidbits

*Thursday's game features four of last seasons' top goal scorers: Dallas' Jaime Benn, 41 goals (3rd); Anaheim's Corey Perry, 34 goals (9th); Dallas' Tyler Seguin, 33 goals (t-10th); Dallas' Jason Spezza, 33 goals (t-10th).

*The Stars led the NHL in goal scoring last season at 3.23 per game.

*The Ducks led the NHL in goals against last season at 2.29 per game.

*The Stars were 4-3-0 in preseason play.

*The Ducks were 2-4-1 in the preseason.

*Jiri Hudler led the Stars in preseason scoring with 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists).

*Perry was tied for the Ducks lead in preseason scoring with 2 points (2 goals).

*Stars goaltender Antti Niemi had a 1.81 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in the preseason.

*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen had a 2.42 goals-against average and .885 save percentage in the preseason.

*Ducks goaltender Jonathan Bernier had a 1.40 GAA and .940 SV% in the preseason.

*Ducks goaltender John Gibson's preseason stats were a 2.02 GAA and .944 SV%.

This story was not subject to the 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.

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