Between the bitter end to their season at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues and the excitement of signing Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry, anticipation for the Dallas Stars’ new campaign is at an all-time high. The club’s offseason moves have created a plethora of intriguing storylines, so we at The Hockey Writers are here to help identify a handful of games that you can’t miss.
New Faces in New Places
Oct. 3 vs. Boston Bruins
As if any opening night isn’t exciting enough to begin with, this one boasts three additional reasons to tune in. Not only does the matchup against the Bruins mark the premiere of Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry in victory green, but it also sees the return of a former Star in Brett Ritchie.
Pavelski and Perry arrive with a combined 727 goals and 1,537 points in 1,951 games played, and it is the first time that either player will appear for a second NHL team. Pavelski was a 13-year veteran with the San Jose Sharks, while Perry spent the last 14 seasons as a member of the Anaheim Ducks franchise. The duo was brought in to help round out a forward group that was far too reliant on Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, so Oct. 3 will be the first taste of a deeper Stars roster.
However, making room for Pavelski and Perry had its consequences. The Stars’ 2011 second-round draft pick, Brett Ritchie, signed with the Bruins this past summer after seven seasons in the Stars organization where he compiled 33 goals and 54 points in 241 NHL games. Pavelski and Perry are evident offensive upgrades, but Ritchie was a favorite of fans and is sure to receive a warm welcome in his return.
Oct. 5 at St. Louis Blues
The Stars turn right around after their debut against the Bruins and fly to St. Louis in an attempt to exact some revenge against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs. The Stars fell to the Blues in overtime of Game 7 of the second round and were forced to watch the Blue Notes march to a Stanley Cup victory two rounds later. On top of being an incredible series from a viewers perspective, the playoff round had both local and national television implications.
Per Matthew DeFranks of dallasnews.com, “Game 6 of the second round between Dallas and St. Louis drew a 5.2 rating in Dallas, the highest ever for the market [and] Game 7 of the second round between Dallas and St. Louis was the most-watched second-round game in NBC history.”
Surely, the first time these two clubs clash in 2019-20 is bound to be exhilarating, so circle Oct. 5 on the calendar.
Perry’s Big Night
Oct. 24 vs. Anaheim Ducks
Every NHL season features games that prove the schedule makers have a sense of humor; the Stars’ date with the Ducks on Oct. 24 is a prime example. Corey Perry signed with the Stars in July a mere 12 games away from his 1,000th career contest, and, of course, the new schedule revealed that the Stars would host Perry’s former team in their twelfth match of the season.
The 2003 28thoverall selection won a Stanely Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and was awarded both the Hart Memorial Trophy and Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy in 2011 as league MVP and goal-scoring leader, respectively. Now, he will be facing off against the organization that drafted him when he achieves arguably his most prestigious individual accolade.
Winter Classic (Seriously, Don’t Skip This One)
Jan. 1 vs. Nashville Predators
Two years after the NHL Draft made its stop in Dallas, the league’s most festive event takes a turn in the Lone Star State on Jan. 1 when the Stars host the Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl for the 2020 Winter Classic. Not only will it be the southernmost outdoor game in NHL history, but it’ll be the first time either team makes an appearance in the event.
The venue has a listed capacity of slightly over 92,000 and reportedly sold out on the first day in which tickets were publicly available. It will be the twelfth installment of the Winter Classic; previous host cities include Buffalo, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington and St. Louis. Ticket sales indicate this year’s iteration will be the second-most attended trailing only the 2014 Winter Classic when the Detroit Red Wings hosted the Chicago Blackhawks at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in front of a crowd of 105,491.
Pavelski Back in the Bay
Jan. 11 at San Jose Sharks
Witnessing players return to their former team’s home building is often a heartwarming occasion, but some instances force the entire hockey community to take notice. Joe Pavelski’s return to San Jose is without a doubt going to be one such event. Alongside Joe Thornton, the man nicknamed ‘Captain America’ was the heart and soul of the San Jose Sharks for the past 13 years, so his first step onto the ice at SAP Center on Jan. 11 is going to be one you won’t want to miss.
The Sharks’ seventh-round pick in 2003 was a three-time all-star, amassed 355 goals and 761 points in 963 games and served as the club’s captain from 2015 to 2019. Like Perry, Pavelski will also play in his 1000th career game as a member of the Stars, but it’s his first appearance back in the Bay Area that may be more special.
Related: Meet the New Stars: Joe Pavelski
Which of these five games excites you most? Or, maybe there’s a game you’re looking forward to that we didn’t mention. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.