Greetings from American Airlines Center in Dallas, where the Capitals just wrapped up their morning skate.
One of the best parts about realignment, in my opinion, is that every team will play the league’s 29 other clubs both home and away. It makes for a better picture of the NHL as a whole and this year it will see the Capitals travel to several cities they haven’t visited in a number of seasons.
Saturday’s tilt is the Capitals’ first visit to Dallas since Dec. 2, 2010. The squad then coached by Bruce Boudreau lost that game, 2-1, after a would-be tying goal by John Carlson in the final seconds of regulation was waved off because Alex Ovechkin was in the crease. Brandon Segal, now with the Hershey Bears, scored the game-winner for the Stars.
A lot has changed since then, and Saturday night the Capitals will get a look at the revamped Stars. Lindy Ruff is in his first year as coach in Dallas, which added Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley as part of a seven-player trade with Boston this summer. The Stars also brought in veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar (two years, $10 million) as a free agent in the offseason.
>>Defenseman Jack Hillen underwent a successful surgery Friday to repair a fractured tibial plateau, which is the top part of the tibia that lies under the knee, after suffering the injury against the Flames Oct. 3. Hillen is expected to miss four to six months. While surgery was required to reattach the fractured part of Hillen’s bone with screws and a metal plate, there was no ligament damage.
>>With Hillen out, Steve Oleksy will make his season debut tonight against the Stars. Coach Adam Oates’s preference for players skating on their strong side is well known and he considers this a quick fix for the time being, but Oleksy is looking to make the most of his return.
“It’s never an easy situation but it’s part of the game. I have to do my best to still be a positive guy in the locker room, be a good team guy,” Oleksy said. “I just have to do my best tonight and contribute any way you can.”
Here are the projected lineups for both the Capitals and Stars.
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Erik Cole
Ray Whitney-Cody Eakin-Alex Chiasson
Shawn Horcoff-Vernon Fiddler-Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel-Rich Peverley-Ryan Garbutt
Alex Goligoski-Sergei Gonchar
Trevor Daley-Stephane Robidas
Brenden Dillon-Jordie Benn
Kari Lehtonen is expected to start.