When Yahweh gives us victory over our ancient foe - a rest from the anguish of our opening night loss and a reprieve from the agony of our three-year drought - we will sing this song of mockery against those who once stood tall:
Our oppressor has fallen!
Those who abused us have been cut down to the ground!
Yahweh has cursed their goaltending
And sent plagues on their heroes of old.
They rejoiced in rulebreaking
with huge hands wielding sticks like instruments of war.
They delighted in destruction,
with insincere hands the only consolation for their victims.
But now the whole Conference has a night off when they play you;
they rejoice when they see your name on the schedule!
The Bluejackets dance on your remains,
yes, even the Predators look at you and laugh, saying
"Though we too have been brought low,
even we can claim victory tonight!"
Sheol beneath is stirred up,
smiling upon your arrival.
It sends the Coyotes and Kings to welcome you
who once stood tall in their division.
Those who sat high atop the Conference
are now brought down among those they abused.
All of them will say to you:
"You have become as weak as we are!
You have become like us!"
Your nepotism has brought you down to Sheol,
where your songs of victory will not be heard.
Your body has been torn apart
and the part that remains you have stripped and disgraced.
Dallas Stars (0-0-1) @ Edmonton Oilers (0-1-0)
Rexall Place, 7:30 PM MDT
More Analysis After The Jump...
Visiting Team Scouting Report:
The old grey mare just ain't what she used to be. To illustrate here's a quote from Brandon Worley at Defending Big D: "the Stars have some serious depth at forward with the addition of Jamie Benn and Tom Wandell. The defense has been shored up (somewhat) with free agents Karlis Skrastins and Jeff Woywitka." Yeah... They also fired Les Jackson (experienced management type) and hired Joe Nieuwendyk (former player with little management experience). As an Oiler fan, I know a little something about glory-days nepotism but I'll give the short version here: it's not usually successful (I'm being kind). To wit: one of Nieuwendyk's first actions as general manager was to fire Dave Tippett (good coach, good person) and hire Marc Crawford (? coach, annoying voice). Further, and this is the real killer, your team is only projected to spend 48M dollars against the cap this year including 7.8M to Brad Richards for winning a Conn Smythe trophy for another team and 1.9M for Sean Avery to actually play for another team. There's also Marty Turco making 5.7M and Mike Ribeiro making 5.0M (he signed that contract the year after shooting 25%). Of the sixteen teams that made the playoffs last year, only one spent less than 50M and only two less than 53M in cap space. The fact that the Stars have four contracts that are quite likely to be poor value (and in the case of Avery it's a 100% guarantee) and are only projected to spend 48M likely means they're going to be a bad team. I have them finishing 12th in the West. I know Stars fans aren't used to having a bad team so Brandon's optimism above is understandable but, hey, as an Oiler fan, I've got plenty of pessimism to go around.
Mr. Worley files the following: "The Dallas Stars entered the season with a bit of uncertainty as they seemingly struggled to get comfortable in Marc Crawford's new offensive system. Despite a shaky first period start and a disappointing shootout loss against Nashville, fans are feeling much more confident in their team after one game. Unrelenting pressure and a daunting forecheck had the Predators on their heels in the latter half of the game and only an incredible performance by Dan Ellis in net kept the Stars from securing a victorious comeback. Mike Modano (Ribs) and Jere Lehtinen (groin) are both out for the game against the Oilers, but the Stars have several young forwards in Jamie Benn and Tom Wandell ready and able to step up and produce."
Expected Starting Lineups:
Dallas Stars (0-0-1):
Neal - Richards - Eriksson
Morrow - Ribeiro - Benn
Ott - Wandell - Brunnstrom
Barch - Sutherby - Petersen
Grossman - Robidas
Skrastins - Daley
Woywitka - Niskanen
Edmonton Oilers (0-1-0):
Jacques - Horcoff - Hemsky
O'Sullivan - Comrie - Stone
Penner - Brule - Nilsson
Cogliano - Gagner - Stortini
Souray - Staios
Grebeshkov - Gilbert
Smid - Visnovsky
Behind The Numbers:
Tonight's game features Marty Turco and Nikolai Khabibulin, ranked 31st and 32nd by save percentage among regular NHL goalies since the lockout. Khabibulin is looking for his 300th career win.
Though both are expansion teams, the Oilers and Stars have met in the playoffs eight times, tied for the most playoff matchups not involving an original six team. Last year marked only the second time since 1995-1996 that neither team made the post-season, lending a bit of insight to how far these teams have fallen.
Edmonton managed to kill only one of three short-handed opportunites and will be missing Ethan Moreau on the penalty kill unit. Look for Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano or Ryan Stone in his place.