After starting Jaroslav Halak in back-to-back games, Hitchcock is planning on Brian Elliott starting tonight. This will be his first start since February 11th. Hopefully that gap and the return of Halak will allow Brian a fresh start for this season. I don't think anyone expected a complete return to last year's form, but they didn't expect this past month, either. Ells had an absolutely rotten February, losing every start and seeing his stats explode to 3.57 GAA and an .849 save percentage. His season's not lost, though. We're not even at the half-way point, yet. There's still plenty of time for Brian Elliott to return to some level that approaches last year. I believe in him.
The Enemy: When we last faced the Stars, we were licking our chops: a still-raw rookie goalie, missing star players ... it seemed like a easy W. Of course, that resulted in the Blues falling behind 2-1 in the first period, before taking over and holding on for a 1-goal win. Now, their starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen is healthy, as is Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr. Also, Jamie Benn is back in the fold. All of these will make the Stars considerably harder to play against. The Stars traded away a leading scorer in Michael Ryder (in exchange for Erik Cole), but Benn and Jagr are tied with him for points, with identical lines of 6-8-14. As for goaltending, I'd expect Kari Lehtonen to start. So far this year, he has put up pretty respectable numbers; a 7-3-1 record with 2.38 GAA and .927 save percentage.
StarsBlog (Dallas Morning News) From their preview, we learn that Chris Stewart has 9 goals and 12 points in 14 games against the Stars in his career. T.J. Oshie is not far behind with 11 points in 12 games.
Final Verse: As a favor to our European fans, the puck drops at 2:00 PM St Louis time. The TV broadcast is on FoxSports MW, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. Until then, this is your morning skate and warmup. Please stick around for the GDT, which should drop shortly ahead of the puck.
While looking for Dallas Stars-themed videos on YouTube, I found this gem. I don't think our game will start this way, but who knows? I bet our friend Ms Connors has warm thoughts from this clip:
Hockey Highlightss: Most Exciting Start To A Hockey Game Ever (via BestFightsInSport)