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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, October 4th (All times eastern)

Dallas Stars (0-0-0) at Colorado Avalanche (0-0-0), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche begin their 2006-07 seasons with a playoff rematch tonight at the Pepsi Center.

The clubs met in the first round of last spring's tournament, and the seventh- seeded Avalanche upset the No. 2 Stars in five games. The loss ruined what had been a successful campaign for Dallas, which won a franchise-record 53 games.

Mike Modano returns after leading the team with 77 points (27g, 50a), but the Stars did make some changes over the summer. Center Jason Arnott left via free agency, as did winger Bill Guerin.

Meanwhile, forward Matthew Barnaby was signed from the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington's Jeff Halpern was inked as well. Defenseman Darryl Sydor was welcomed back and he will be joined on the blueline with Jaroslav Modry, who came to the team in a trade with Atlanta that also saw forward Patrik Stefan join the team, and Niko Kapanen headed to the Thrashers.

One of the additions to the team that could have the most impact is the signing of oft-injured forward Eric Lindros, who hopes merely to be healthy. Lindros tallied 11 goals and 11 assists in 33 games for Toronto last season, as his season was limited due to a wrist injury.

Marty Turco had a stellar regular season, but again faltered in the playoffs. Last year he finished third in the league with 41 wins and posted a 2.55 goals-against average. He appeared in 68 games and posted an .898 save percentage.

Dallas will host New Jersey on Saturday. Overall, the Stars play five of their first six games on the road.

Colorado, meanwhile, is no longer the dominant force it was last decade, but it was still a playoff team in 05-06. That said, the Avs lost in the second round for the second straight campaign.

Colorado had some internal maintenance to do this summer, namely trying to re- sign both Joe Sakic and Rob Blake. Sakic is back once again as the club's face, while Blake inked a deal with his old club in Los Angeles. His departure, along with that of Alex Tanguay, places further distance between the current era of Colorado hockey and the club's last Cup win in 2001.

Defenseman Jordan Leopold's addition should help replace what Blake took with him, as the 26- year-old has decent offensive tools and can quarterback the power-play. To help pick up the slack left by Tanguay, new GM Francois Giguere hopes his signing of Tyler Arnason can do the trick. Arnason showed promise in his first two NHL seasons with Chicago, but was a brutal disappointment last campaign. He struggled in the Windy City and basically did nothing following a deadline trade to Ottawa.

Goaltender Jose Theodore enters his first full season with the Avs, as he was obtained at the trade deadline in March. Theodore, a former Hart and Vezina winner, is on a mission to rebound from a nightmare season that was also limited due to a freak heel injury.

The Avs will visit Minnesota on Thursday.

Dallas took three-of-four from Colorado during the regular season in 05-06.

The Stars are 15-13-10 all-time in season openers, while the Avalanche franchise is 15-5-6. The Avs' .692 winning percentage in first games is the best mark in the NHL.

10/04 10:25:24 ET


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