The Dallas Stars travel to Raleigh to face one of the best teams in the league, the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. Dallas heads into this game sitting one point ahead of Vegas for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Debut Night For Namestnikov & Wedgewood
There will be two brand new faces hitting the ice tonight for Dallas as both newcomers, Vladislav Namestnikov and Scott Wedgewood, will make their debuts in Carolina.
Namestnikov was delayed in transit on his way from Detroit to Dallas and therefore was unable to play in the game on Tuesday night. Now, he will make his Stars debut against a tough and physical Hurricanes team.
“It gives us a few more options,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “You look at our schedule and there are a ton of games coming up, and we have to have some options and we have to have some bodies who can play.”
Related: Stars News & Rumors: Namestnikov, Wedgewood, & Heiskanen
Meanwhile, Wedgewood will get his first start in net for Dallas after backing up for Jake Oettinger on Tuesday night. This will be his first start since March 19 and the 29-year-old is 3-1-0 on the month. His first start will serve as a much-needed rest for Oettinger, who has played seemingly every game since the end of January.
“That’s why we got Scott,” Bowness said of the quick start. “We needed a backup goalie to not only give Jake a breather but to help us keep winning games and get in the playoffs. He’s going to play, and he’s going to help us get there.”
Stars Line Shuffling
As expected, the addition of Namestnikov at the deadline is shuffling things throughout the forward group. The 29-year-old winger skated on the second line with Tyler Seguin and Denis Gurianov, allowing Jamie Benn to play center on a third line with Marian Studenic and Alexander Radulov that has been successful over the past few games.
“Right now, we like the look of the four lines, we like the balance,” Bowness said. “We have to rely on four lines. The balance is there right now, but when we have to shorten up the bench, that’s when we’ll put Jamie and Tyler back together.”
As Bowness said, the biggest key here is the freedom that it allows the coaching staff. The Stars have been forced to shorten their bench in recent games and adding some depth that can produce allows them to trust that all four lines can be effective.
Big Time on ESPN
Tonight’s game will be nationally broadcast on ESPN. This is one of a few games that Dallas has had on the big stage and their first on the biggest of all.
It serves as a good opportunity for two smaller markets to show what they can do in front of a much larger audience.
Hurricanes Scouting Report
Carolina has picked up where they left off last season, and then some. They currently sit first in the Metropolitan Division and are tied with Florida for the most points in the East. They have not been as hot lately, going 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, but they remain one of the most consistent teams all season.
“We played them a lot last year, and they’ve been a top team the last few years,” said defenseman John Klingberg. “We know they’re a very fast-paced team. We talked about it in the pre-scout. They really like to go on the forecheck. They’re probably the top team in the league at dumping the puck in, but also getting it back and creating chances from that. It’s going to be a fast-paced game.”
Dallas defeated Carolina 4-1 on Nov. 30 during their season-long seven-game winning streak. Both teams have seen significant changes since then and this will be a whole new test as they face one of the best home teams in the NHL.
Sebastian Aho leads the Canes with 62 points in 60 games while newcomer Frederik Andersen has held down the net with a .928 save percentage and 2.06 goals-against average. Tonight will also serve as the Canes debut for forward Max Domi, who was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets before Monday’s deadline.
“I’ve always said that this team has so much depth and so much talent,” Domi said. “When you come in here you have to either play against [Jaccob] Slavin or take draws against [Jordan Staal] and that’s never fun. Then you get into Svech, Aho, Teravainen, the depth is just crazy.”
Well, all they have done is added yet another skilled piece to that crazy depth to push themselves further into contention.
- Scott Wedgewood will make his first start for Dallas in net
- Vladislav Namestnikov will make his Stars debut
- Jacob Peterson will be a healthy scratch to make room for Namestnikov
He Said It
“Petey’s been playing really well, so has Kivi,” said Bowness. “It’s tough when you have to tell players they’re playing well, but not playing. I’m not going to break up the Roope line. Faksy’s line has been good. Jamie with Marian and Rads has been good. I know Vlady well enough to know he should be a good fit with Seggy and Denis.”