NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, October 3rd (All times eastern)
Nashville Predators (0-0-0) at Dallas Stars (0-0-0), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Neither the Nashville Predators or Dallas Stars made any major moves this offseason despite missing the postseason last year. The two clubs begin their respective seasons tonight at American Airlines Center.
While injuries derailed the Stars last year, it was a simple lack of firepower that doomed the Predators. They finished 24th in the NHL in scoring and ended 10th in the conference to snap a string of four straight playoff appearances.
Since Nashville didn't add any scoring in the offseason, the bulk of the work should again fall to forwards Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont, as well as defenseman Shea Weber.
Arnott set a franchise record with 33 goals last year and ended with 57 assists, while Dumont chipped in 49 assists and a team-high 65 points. Nashville is also banking on a full season from Steve Sullivan, who returned last January after missing nearly two years of action due to a back injury. He had 11 goals and 21 assists in 41 games.
Sullivan should be able to play tonight despite a groin injury, while Jordin Tootoo is unlikely to play due to the same ailment.
Weber, a Norris Trophy candidate last year, was second in the club with 23 goals. He makes up one of the top defensive pairings in the league with Ryan Suter (38 assists, 45 points).
Defenseman Francis Bouillon, 33, is also on Nashville's opening-day roster despite not joining the club until Wednesday.
Head coach Barry Trotz has not named a starting goaltender for tonight. Pekka Rinne took over the starting duties from Dan Ellis after going 29-15-4 in 52 games with a 2.38 goals against average. It appears as if Trotz may give Ellis a chance to win back the job, though.
The Stars finished eight points out of a playoff berth last year despite making it to the Western Conference finals the previous year, leading to a front office shake-up this past summer. Joe Nieuwendyk replaces co-general managers Les Jackson and Brett Hull, and he fired Dave Tippett as head coach.
Tippett was replaced by Marc Crawford, and the healthy returns of Brad Richards (fractured wrist) and captain Brenden Morrow (torn ACL) will go a long way in determining if his first season will be a successful one.
Crawford does have prolific American-born skater Mike Modano (15 goals, 46 points) back in the fold for another year, along with Mike Ribeiro, who led the team with 78 points a season ago.
Winger Loui Eriksson (36 goals) and sophomore James Neal (24) also look to continue their progress. Eriksson and the Stars agreed on a six-year, $25.5 million contract extension on Friday.
Veteran defender Sergei Zubov missed most of 2008-09 with a hip injury and is now in the KHL, making Stephane Robidas the new leader on the blueline. He signed a four-year contract extension earlier this week.
Marty Turco played in a career-high 74 games last year and it showed. He went just 33-31-10 with a 2.81 GAA, so Dallas brought in Alex Auld to help lighten the load.
That won't begin tonight, as Turco should start. He is 11-6-0 with a tie and 2.00 GAA lifetime versus the Predators.
These two clubs split their four-game series, with each team winning twice on home ice. Nashville has lost nine of its last 11 trips to Dallas.
10/03 11:13:50 ET