The Dallas Stars are set to play the first Stanley Cup Playoff game at American Airlines Center since 2008, and it’s a game they really need with the Anaheim Ducks already holding a 2-0 lead in the first round series.
“I think if I have to express urgency the team’s in the wrong place. They know where they’re at,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I’ve told them to embrace this opportunity. Being in the playoffs is a great place to be, so just embrace it. They know the urgency. They know how hard it’s going to be. It’s not going to be an easy game. If we’re going to win this game, it is going to be a tough battle and this team has been up for the challenge. We’ve put away what’s behind us and we’ve told them all year long, let’s just focus in on what’s ahead of us and right now it’s Game 3 and we’re going to go out and try to win it.”
After playing two games in Anaheim, the Stars are looking forward to playing in front of the hometown fans, who provided a big boost down the stretch as the team fought its way into the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. This will be the first playoff game in Dallas since Game 6 of the 2008 Western Conference Final. The Stars are expecting a raucous building.
“Can’t wait to see what it is going to be like,” said defenseman Alex Goligoski. “It should be fun, especially early. I’m sure it is going to be real intense”
“I think this building will be electric,” said Ruff. “I think we were able to witness an Anaheim building that had a lot of energy. Our fans get that opportunity, a long-awaited opportunity for a home playoff game and I just think anytime I’ve been in a home playoff game coaching, that first game, the energy in the building before you start the game is absolutely tremendous, and I expect that tonight. Our fans have been able to lift us down the stretch from the Minnesota game to the St. Louis game, there’s been tremendous energy. And I’m looking forward to our guys playing in front of our fans because that’s another special moment in the playoffs.”
Ruff said the Stars will have to walk a fine line as far as feeding off the energy, but he’ll take too much energy over no energy.
“I’d rather be too amped up than not amped up. Walking that line, the energy’s going to be high. It’s trying to control that,” Ruff said. “I’m pretty sure Anaheim will try to take the energy out of the building and say listen, the push is coming at the first. Let’s be ready for it. Us it’s trying to walk that line of the first home playoff game, playing with that amount of energy that puts us right on the line, and that’s what I’m hoping our guys can put together.”
Stars lineup: Cole out?
As they did in the skate prior to Game 2, the Stars ran jumbled lines in Monday morning’s skate. The most interesting item during line rushes was that Erik Cole did not take part and that Chris Mueller was in the mix. Cole stayed on the ice late, indicating he would be a scratch. Ruff was coy when asked about Cole’s status.
“Probably just getting some extra work I guess, he hasn’t played a lot,” Ruff said.
Kari Lehtonen will get the start in goal.
It appears the Stars will go with the same set of defensemen as last game, which means Kevin Connauton is in and Aaron Rome will be the scratch on defense. Dustin Jeffrey is expected to be scratched as well.
Dillon skates, still out
Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon skated prior to this morning’s team skate, but will miss his third straight game with a lower body injury.
“Brenden Dillon skated this morning. He’s not a player yet. He’s moving along slowly. He’s going to skate again tomorrow. See if we can progress him along, but he hasn’t had a full practice now in over a week, just going to be hard pressed to throw him into action if all of a sudden it comes around.”
Monday’s game will mark defenseman Stephane Robidas’ first game in Dallas since being traded from the Stars to Anaheim just prior to the NHL’s trade deadline in March.
“It was a little weird [walking into the building for practice] yesterday,” Robidas said, “but I try not too overthink too much, because everything has happened so quick and not too long ago I was on the other side. But now it’s playoff hockey and all I want to do is help my team win.”
Robidas’ family is still living in Dallas since his children attend school here. He made it in time for daughter Lexi’s ninth birthday party on Sunday. The family will attend the game tonight and son Justin, 11, has adjusted quickly to dad being an Anaheim Duck.
“He’s got his Ducks jersey now, so he changed pretty quick,” Robidas said. “He deleted the Stars app on his phone and added the Ducks app, it was pretty quick as soon as the trade happened. But it’s all good. I know for them coming to the game will be pretty different.”
Robidas said he expects a great atmosphere tonight at American Airlines Center, and he’s happy that fans have playoff hockey back in Dallas.
“The fans have been amazing, and when you look at the way they supported the team in those tough times, it’s good to have playoff hockey back in Dallas after five years,” he said. “I expect it’s going to be crazy tonight.”
Who: Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars
What: Game 3, 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 8:30 p.m.
Local TV: TXA 21
National TV: NBC Sports Network, TSN
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Ray Whitney – Chris Mueller – Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Patrik Nemeth – Jordie Benn
Kevin Connauton – Sergei Gonchar
Ducks projected lineup
Devante Smith-Pelly – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Jakob Silfverberg - Saku Koivu – Andrew Cogliano
Patrick Maroon – Mathieu Perreault – Teemu Selanne
Daniel Winnik – Nick Bonino – Kyle Palmieri
Hampus Lindholm – Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy
Bryan Allen – Stephane Robidas
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