The day is finally here and the sound of slapshots and hard hits can be heard. The NHL season officially kicked off last night with a couple of very good games and then the action kept on going with a pair of game over-seas this morning. But for two franchises it all starts tonight in downtown Dallas. The Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks kick off their seasons tonight at the American Airlines Center in the first game of a home-and-home pair of games to start the year.
The Blackhawks of course made it into the playoffs last year only after the Stars dropped their final game of the season in Minnesota, and the Cup winners from a couple of seasons ago are re-tooled and looking to get back to the success they had for a few seasons before the last one. The Stars on the other-hand, are just looking for success and growth period. Three straight seasons without a playoff appearance, two coaching changes, and unstable ownership have plagued the Stars in recent years. But the Stars are ready to set all of that behind them. GM Joe Nieuwendyk has slowly reshaped this team how he was able to and now has a young coach in Glen Gulutzan that the players and staff are praising. Ownership is on the way and though the playoffs might be a little out of reach, the Stars are doing things Joe’s way and slowly things are coming together.
Both teams beefed up their lower lines and depth in the offseason, but of course the focus for many will be the Stars after the departure of Brad Richards. Who cares anymore? We have heard about it enough and it sounds like the team has too. Michael Ryder joins the Stars top lines and hopefully with a little bit more growth and bigger roles from Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, the Stars offense should be okay. Expect to see Kari Lehtonen in net for Dallas and Corey Crawford in the pipes for the Blackhawks. Both teams will be relying on their top goalies a lot this year if either is to have the type of success they want. Both guys had good preseasons in the little time they did play, and tonight will be called up to stop some very talented offensive players.
The puck drops at 7:30 CST, so I hope to see many of you there. Be there early, it’s always great to take in the first real game of the year. The anthems, the intro videos and introductions. Should be a blast as the hockey season is back, and hopefully so are your Dallas Stars.