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Lightning (0-0-0) at Stars (0-0-0)
2009-10: Tampa Bay (34-36-12, 80 Points, 12th Eastern Conference); Dallas (37-31-14, 88 Points, 12th Western Conference)
Inside The Series: Tampa Bay and Dallas meet for each team’s respective 2010 preseason opener. The Lightning begin the new season on the road, with tonight’s game marking the first of five exhibition games away from home. The Stars, meanwhile, will play four of six at home leading up to the regular season debut on Oct. 8 at American Airlines Center. Tonight’s matchup is a rare meeting between the two clubs, who have only faced off against each other 10 times during the preseason entering tonight. Tampa Bay and Dallas last played an exhibition game on Sept. 16, 2009, with the Stars earning a 4-3 victory in the shootout. The Bolts post an all-time preseason record of 2-4-2-2 against the Stars, dating back the very first meeting between the clubs on Sept. 29, 1993.
The Big Story: Tonight’s contest marks Steve Yzerman’s debut as General Manager, as well as head coach Guy Boucher’s first NHL game behind the bench. The Bolts officially usher in the new era tonight by icing a roster consisting of returning veterans, top prospects and free-agent offseason acquisitions, signaling the new direction in the team under owner Jeff Vinik. Lightning goaltender Mike Smith also makes his return to Dallas tonight, where he began his NHL career before being acquired by Tampa Bay in a trade for Brad Richards. Richards, however, is not slated to play tonight for Dallas unlike current teammate Brad Lukowich, who also will be going up against his former team. As for the Stars, tonight’s game denotes the first time the team will skate without long-time net minder Marty Turco or former captain Mike Modano, who ended his 20-year career with the organization after signing a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings over the summer.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will touch down in Dallas Tuesday afternoon following the team’s final on-ice session at Training Camp. The Bolts wrapped up a successful camp Tuesday morning, with all of the players eager to start the season. Head Coach Guy Boucher stated throughout the entirety of camp that he was pleased with the team’s effort during practices and scrimmages, but that he would still like to see more of the relentless instinct and more speed from all players.
STARS – The squad returned home to Dallas yesterday following a three-day trip to Prince Edward Island, which hosted the team’s training camp. According to the team’s web site, things in Dallas are taking on a fresh start centered around a new, young core of players. DallasStars.com reported that all players had a successful and healthy camp, with the offense looking much like it did last season, anchored by former Lightning Stanley Cup Champion Brad Richards, Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro, Jamie Benn and Steve Ott, while its defense seems to be looking for some continuity.
Who To Watch For: Tampa Bay will play some of its top forward prospects in Richard Panik, James Wright, Niklas Persson and Dana Tyrell. Talented free agent acquisition Dominic Moore is also scheduled to skate, and will be joined by returning Bolts Ryan Malone and Steve Downie, who both enjoyed successful years last season. Dallas will dress two of its top-five scorers from last season in Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow, and will also play a young pair of talented defensemen in Severin Blindenbacher and Mark Fistric.
Quotable: “Practice or games, for me, we’re charging the net with whatever we got. I want to see the guys bulldozing the net, whether it’s our goalies or the other team’s goalies. I want our goalies to be used to that. That’s how playoffs are played, and we’re going to play playoff hockey from Day One.” – Head Coach Guy Boucher, on how he expects his team to perform throughout the season.