Opening Day Face Off: Dallas vs. Nashville

Mar 12, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars right wing Erik Cole (72) screens Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Predators shut out the Stars 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The day we’re all impatiently waiting for is just around the corner: Opening Day. While this Opening Day likely won’t be any different than those from past seasons with the exceptions of a mostly new roster,  new uniform, new general manager and new head coach, fans NHL-wide are sure to be paying close attention to what all the changes from the offseason have brought the Dallas Stars.

So what can be expected to happen October 3?

First things first, the Stars will be facing off against the now-division competitor Nashville Predators. Both teams struggled significantly last season, but Nashville’s saving grace from falling to last place in the Western Conference was the Colorado Avalanche. And that saving grace was a single win. So theoretically, just looking at the performance of both teams from last season, the Stars should fare quite well. In contrast though, it was the first time in four years the Preds missed out on the offseason, while it was just another in a five-year-long drought for the Stars.

Both teams have had an extremely active offseason with new acquisitions and roster changes.  Nashville gained a strong defenseman in Frisco-based first-round-draft-pick Seth Jones and beefed up the offense with Matt Cullen, Viktor Stalberg, Matt Hendriks and former Dallas Star Eric Nystrom. And with Shea Weber leading the way for the team yet again, Nashville’s sure to turn some heads. The team’s veteran core is expected to return with a vengeance also. Ryan Clune led the league in hits and Colin Wilson was headed for a hot season until a shoulder injury sidelined him for the second half of the year.

Dallas’ acquisitions in the offseason have been some of the most notable from the pick of Valeri Nichushkin in the draft to the addition of Tyler Segun, Rich Peverley and Shawn Horcoff in an seven-man trade with Boston.  Boosting the team’s defense with veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar and veteran goalie Dan Ellis is also anticipated to bring strong support to areas that need it the most. And management changes by way of Jim Nill as the organization’s new GM and Lindy Rudd as head coach are sure to shake things up in the locker room and on the ice.

So what can be expected to happen October 3?

Hopefully, both teams will come out swinging, proving the moves made during the offseason were strong, quality, table-turning decisions that could push both teams back into playoff contention. Both have a lot to prove and need to come out of the gate motivated to do so. It’s anyone’s game in a season opener, and whichever team captures the momentum off the first win of the year is sure to make it count.

Who do I think will win? Dallas, of course. But then again, I’m obviously quite biased.

Topics: Dallas Stars, Hockey, Nashville Predators, NHL

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