After a revved up tilt against the New York Islanders Saturday night, the Stars are expecting a different style of game when they take on the St. Louis Blues tonight at American Airlines Center.
The Blues rank fifth in goals against (2.00) and second in shots against (23.4), so it’s unlikely this will be a wide open affair.
“We had tough games against them last year and I expect the same. I don’t expect an end-to-end game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Both teams know how they need to play to win. On our side, we maybe have a little bit more risk in our game than they do, but that’s part of how we play. But at the same time, the last two or three times we played them, the chances were down. The attention to details from both teams was good, and I would expect more of the same.”
The Blues are coming off a 3-2 win over Chicago, and St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said dealing with Stars is a lot like dealing with the Blackhawks.
“[The Stars] play with tempo. They play fast,” Hitchcock said. “They play fast offensively, so managing the puck, this is probably the one team in the West, them and Chicago, that you better manage the puck properly because if you don’t, you’re not going to have any success. So I think our puck management, if we play and control the puck the same way we did against Chicago, I think we’ll play really well. But you don’t want to be trying lateral plays when you’ve got the dynamics that they have on those first two lines.”
The Stars will go with the same group of forwards and the same line combinations as Saturday’s game. There will be one change on defense. Kevin Connauton will be back in the lineup, and Jyrki Jokipakka is expected to sit out as a healthy scratch. Connauton, who is expected to be paired with Jamie Oleksiak, is back in after being a scratch the past two games.
“Obviously I need him to play well in his own end. That’s first and foremost for any defenseman,” Ruff said of Connauton. “We want to keep all the defensemen going and we feel like Kevin’s a big part of that. Obviously, we’ve given Jokipakka an opportunity, and he’s played well and Oleksiak has played well. So we want to keep moving these guys along. He’ll come back in. We’ll see how he plays. It all starts with how you play in your own end.”
Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice at this morning’s skate, so he is expected to be in goal for Dallas. Lehtonen is 4-0-2 this season with a 2.73 goals against average and. 915 save percentage.
Brian Elliot gets the nod in net for St. Louis. He is 2-2-1 with a 1.78 goals against average and .922 save percentage.
Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, acquired from Toronto over the summer, will make his St. Louis debut tonight after missing the first seven games due to offseason hip surgery.
Who: St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Tyler Seguin
Patrick Eaves – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: D Jyrki Jokipakka, LW Curtis McKenzie
Injured: RW Valeri Nichushkin (groin/hip), D Sergei Gonchar (ankle), D Patrik Nemeth (arm laceration)
Blues projected lineup
T.J. Oshie – David Backes – Jaden Schwartz
Joakim Lindstrom - Patrik Berglund – Dmitrij Jaskin
Alexander Steen – Jori Lehtera – Vladimir Tarasenko
Steve Ott – Maxim Lapierre – Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
Ian Cole – Kevin Shattenkirk
Barret Jackman – Carl Gunnarsson
Scratched: Jordan Leopold, Magnus Paajarvi, Chris Porter
Injured: Paul Stastny (wrist)
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.