The Dallas Stars are ready to make their mark on the NHL Western Conference now that October is finally here.
It’s hockey season in the United States – and in Canada, and the Dallas Stars have a few new options in their quest to make the playoffs and show that they are a new and improved team in the Central Division.
After acquiring Antti Niemi, Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya, the Stars have a powerful offensive team with a deeper defensive side. The won’t have Jhonas Enroth, Ryan Garbutt, Trevor Daley or Shawn Horcoff, but with their depth, they’ll be able to make up for it.
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Tonight, the Stars will open the regular season in Dallas against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who also made a big splash in the summer by trading for Phil Kessel. He is expected to be playing on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz.
This is set to be a star-studded game so let’s take a look at three things to watch for as the Stars begin their journey in 2015-16.
1. The Stars top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp.
Though the Stars have been using Benn, Eakin and Seguin in practice the past few days, I expect them to roll with Benn, Seguin and Sharp on the top line since that is what they used during the preseason. These three will make up one of the best lines in the NHL and it will be just a matter of time until they form the necessary chemistry to dominate opposing goalies.
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin will be in the running for the Art Ross trophy this year and Patrick Sharp adds a nice little touch with his craftiness. They will be going up against a big three of Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin, though they won’t all be on the same line.
The main thing to watch for is how effective the Stars newest trio can be together, especially on the power play, when they will be accompanied by Jason Spezza and John Klingberg. We already know Benn and Seguin are in sync with each other but keep an eye on Sharp. He should fit in perfectly with his superstar line mates.
2. The new and improved defensive lines.
The Stars defensive lines for 2015-16 won’t be featuring many new players but they will be shuffled into some new combinations. The addition of Johnny Oduya pushes John Klingberg up to the top line with Alex Goligoski, who is now an alternate captain.
Also, there will be tons of competition on the last line. It looks as if Jyrki Jokipakka and Jordie Benn will control the line to start the season off, but don’t be surprised if Patrik Nemeth or Jamie Oleksiak force their way in sometime during the season.
Watch for productivity with a defense that the Stars hope to be improved from last season now that they have a Stanley Cup winner in Johnny Oduya. Keep tabs on the last line too, because if things go wrong, they could be replaced by some of the Stars younger defensive depth.
3. Mattias Janmark’s NHL regular season debut.
Mattias Janmark beat out Curtis McKenzie during the preseason and he will be on the fourth line. His spectacular play, which featured a few really nice goals, helped him stand out for the front office and the fans. He was a part of the youth surge that got their chance during the preseason and was the only one that made it on the roster.
Janmark should get mixed playing time with Colton Sceviour, Travis Moen and Patrick Eaves and at the young age of 22, he will be fun to watch. Keep an eye on him in his debut and see how he responds against an experienced Penguins team.
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