Preview: Stars Face Tex’s Rangers Thursday

Two NHL teams have direct ties to Texas, and they faceoff Thursday night in Dallas. The Stars, of course, call the Lone Star State home. Tonight’s opponent, the New York Rangers, were founded 90 years ago by George Lewis “Tex” Rickard, a former cowboy and lawman-turned-sports promoter who grew up in Henrietta, Texas, just outside present-day Wichita Falls. A New York sportswriter jokingly referred to the newly-awarded franchise as “Tex’s Rangers” and Rickard liked the play on words, so the name stuck.

For a team that just turned 90, the Blueshirts are in awfully good shape. They currently occupy second place in the mighty Metropolitan Division and are outscoring opponents by more than a goal per game, on average. In addition to scoring, the Rangers have speed and elite goaltending.

Tonight the Stars will attempt yet again to “go for two,” to string together consecutive wins for just the second time this season. Against Anaheim Tuesday night, they leaned heavily on Antti Niemi for 40 minutes before stepping on the gas in a third-period goal-scoring extravaganza. Dallas will need to play a more complete game Thursday in order to defeat Texas’ “other” hockey team.

New York Rangers at Dallas Stars

American Airlines Center – 7:30 pm CST

Broadcast channels – FS-SW+, MSG

2016-17 Season Series: 

First Meeting of the Season

New York Rangers: 20-10-1  41 Points

Road Record: 9-5-0

Hot Players: Chris Kreider, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh and Antti Raanta

Key Injuries: Pavel Buchnevich, Mika Zibanejad and Matt Puempel

Projected lines:


Chris Kreider – Derek Stepan – Mats Zuccarello

J.T. Miller – Kevin Hayes – Rick Nash

Jesper Fast – Oscar Lindberg – Marek Hrivik

Jimmy Vesey – Brandon Pirri – Michael Grabner


Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi

Marc Staal – Nick Holden

Brady Skeji – Kevin Klein


Henrik Lundqvist


Dallas Stars – 12-13-6  30 Points

Home Record: 8-4-2

Hot Players: Devin Shore, Jamie Benn and Antti Niemi

Key Injuries: Julius Honka, Curtis McKenzie, Patrick Sharp, Mattias Janmark and Ales Hemsky

Projected lines:


Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Jason Spezza

Antoine Roussel – Radek Faksa – Brett Ritchie

Lauri Korpikoski – Cody Eakin – Patrick Eaves

Jiri Hudler – Devin Shore – Adam Cracknell


Esa Lindell – John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya – Jordie Benn

Dan Hamhuis – Stephen Johns


Antti Niemi

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] Several Stars forwards opted out of the morning skate, so there were no line rushes. Given Tuesday night’s success, though, don’t expect Lindy Ruff to make any significant changes to his lineup.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] Reinforcing the previous note, Julius Honka, Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, Patrick Sharp and Curtis McKenzie all skated late, so it’s safe to say they won’t play tonight.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Henrik Lundqvist returns to the crease tonight after sitting for the last four games while backup goalie Antti Raanta went on a tear, earning the NHL’s Second Star of the Week honors last week. Lundqvist, one of the top goalies in the league today, has struggled somewhat this season. His goals against average of 2.55 is a career-worst, while his save percentage of .912 is tied for worst. You don’t earn the “elite” label at this level without a good measure of pride, though, so expect “King Henrik” to be a tough nut for the Stars to crack.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] To get pucks past Lundqvist, the Stars will have to get dirty. Yesterday, Ruff commented that most of Devin Shore’s goals have come from just outside the crease. This morning, Shore said, “I’ve learned that most of the goals – maybe 80 percent – are pretty ugly goals, just going to the net and banging home the loose change. So I’m just focusing on developing the habit of doing that all the time.”

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap] Family Ties: Shore played his college hockey at the University of Maine. Rangers rookie Jimmy Vesey played at Harvard. Other than the annual Traverse City rookie tournament, the two have never met on the ice, but Shore did play with Vesey’s brother, Nolan, at Maine.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]6)[/miptheme_dropcap] Jiri Hudler always aims to please: Hank Williams, Jr., was playing in the Stars dressing room after the morning skate. When asked if he’d selected the music, Hudler replied, “No…Wait, do you like it? Because if you like it, then yes, I did.”