Florida Panthers at Dallas Stars
Thursday October 3rd @ 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/104.1 FM
In an offseason full of change throughout the entire Dallas Stars organization, the city awaits for what is arguably one of the most highly anticipated opening tilts in team history.
“It’s fresh. That’s the word that comes to mind,” said defenseman Trevor Daley.
Lead by new head coach Lindy Ruff and general manager Jim Nill, the Stars begin their quest to return to postseason contention after having missed for a franchise-worst, five consecutive years.
"Five years without playoffs is a long time," said forward Ray Whitney. "I think the organization has made that apparent to us with the moves they've made."
In what expects to be a sold out American Airlines Center in Downtown Dallas, the Stars kick-off their two-game homestand to start the season against the Florida Panthers debuting their brand new 'Victory Green' uniforms.
The Stars finished the preseason (5-0-2), (2-0-0) against Florida.
“Ready to rock and roll,” said Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon. “The points count now and everything is for real."
Rookie sensation Valeri Nichushkin will make his NHL debut since being selected number 10th overall in the 2013 Entry Draft. Nichushkin is expected to play alongside veterans Vernon Fiddler and Shawn Horcoff on the Stars third-line.
"Obviously, it is his first pro game and he’ll probably have some nerves early on. Maybe there will be a tendency to try a little too much, but it’s his first game and we want to get him through it and we want him to enjoy it,” said Ruff.
21-year old and newly acquired center Tyler Seguin will make his Dallas Stars debut on the teams top line alongside wingers Jamie Benn and Erik Cole. Seguin comes into this game leading the Stars during the preseason with 7 points (one goal, six assists). Other notables such as forwards Shawn Horcoff, Chris Mueller and defenseman Sergei Gonchar will all be making their Stars debut as well.
Forward Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat) and defenseman Aaron Rome (hip) are inactive.
STARS PROJECTED LINEUP
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Erik Cole
Ray Whitney - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson
Shawn Horcoff - Vernon Fiddler - Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel - Chris Mueller - Ryan Garbutt
Alex Goligoski - Sergei Gonchar
Brenden Dillon - Stephane Robidas
Jordie Benn - Trevor Daley
Dan Ellis (backup)
With new owner Vincent Viola and ten new players on the roster, the Florida Panthers look to try and stay as far away from their dead last finish in 2013 as possible.
Newly acquired goaltender Tim Thomas will get the start in goal on Thursday. Thomas was apart of the 2011 Stanley Cup winning Boston Bruins with current Stars center Tyler Seguin. "I think there's a positive energy," Thomas told reporters on Wednesday.
"They're really looking forward to growing and getting better in the organization. I think new ownership brought a very positive direction to the team."
The Panthers also made moves up front by signing free agent defensemen Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert and forward Brad Boyes and re-acquiring former Stars enforcer Krys Barch via trade with the New Jersey Devils.
Rookie Aleksander Barkov is set to make his NHL debut since being selected second overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Barkov is expected to center a line with the 2013 Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau on the left, with Boyes on the right.
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski (hip), forward Sean Bergenheim (hip/abdomen), center Nick Bjugstad (concussion), forward Steve Pinizzotto (hip) and goalie Scott Clemmensen (knee) are all inactive.
PANTHERS PROJECTED LINEUP
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Kris Versteeg
Jesse Winchester - Shawn Matthias - Tomas Kopecky
Scottie Upshall - Scott Gomez - Drew Shore
Brian Campbell - Ryan Whitney
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver
Tom Gilbert - Erik Gudbranson
Jacob Markstrom (backup)
*This is the first of two meetings between the Stars and Panthers this season.
*The last time the two teams met was Nov. 15, 2011, when Florida won 6-0 at American Airlines Center.
*The Stars are 11-8-6 all-time against the Panthers, including 4-4-4 at home.
*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is 13-6-4 in his career vs. Florida with a 2.52 goals against average and .923 save percentage.
*Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas is 2-1-1 in his career vs. Dallas with a 1.49 goals against average and a .953 save percentage.