The Dallas Stars will finally wrap up their week long trek across the country tonight somewhere along the backside of the country against the New Jersey Devils. While I kid about how bad Jersey really is, I still don’t care for them after they took the Cup away from the Stars. But that’s in the past. And the Stars (besides only Brenden Morrow being the only player left from those days) need to focus on the present. After starting the road-trip off with an ugly game against the Sharks and Andrew Raycroft being pulled, things didn’t look promising for the rest of the week. But Richard Bachman took over the reigns in between the pipes and has helped guide the Stars to three straight road wins. In doing so Bachman became the first netminder in franchise history to win his first three games and along the way has started a debate as to what should happen with him. For now, you can just call him the Stars starting goalie.
Bachman will get the start again, playing on back-to-back nights rather than the Stars turning to Raycroft. Tonight he will be up against Johan Hedberg. The veteran back-up received some starts early in the season because of Martin Brodeur being injured, but has since continued to earn some time because of his stellar play. While both are veterans likely close to retirement, the once unbeatable Brodeur looks like a shell of his former self so far this year when he has played and Hedberg might be called upon often as the season moves on. The Devils will enter the contest riding a solid streak as well, having won four of their last five to climb back above .500 for the season (16-13-1). The Stars won the first meeting of the season between the two teams in late October back in Dallas, as Vernon Fiddler got a lucky bounce in the third to break a tie and help lead Dallas to a 3-1 win.
On the injury front the Dallas Stars are of course still without Kari Lehtonen and he is still expected to be out until probably the turn of the year. Adam Burish is making progress, but is still a week or two away according to sources. Young winger Tomas Vincour will also sit tonight as he injured his knee last night against the Islanders. No official word yet as to who will replace him the lineup. The Devils might receive a big boost tonight as center Travis Zajac is expected to return to the lineup. When healthy he should be one of New Jersey’s top offensive players, but there is no telling where he plays tonight. He has been out for months with a torn Achilles and tonight will be his first action this season. Anton Volchenkov (hand) and Henrik Tallinder (wrist) are listed as probable while Andy Greene and Jacob Josefson are out.
The puck drops tonight at 7pm CST from the Prudential Center in Jersey. Remember that the game was moved back an hour for the pregame ceremony as the Devils will retire Scott Niedermayer‘s number before the game. Niedermayer will be the third player to have his number retired by Devils, and is considered by many to be one of the best offensive blueliners of all time. Tune in early to watch his No. 27 hung up in the rafters, and then hopefully for a little beatdown of the Devils starting at about 7pm.
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