Familiar FoesPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
It hasn’t quite been 18 months since the Texas Stars and the Hershey Bears hooked up in the 2010 Calder Cup final series, with the Bears prevailing and skating off with their second straight Calder Cup title. When the Capitals take to the ice for tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars – the Texas Stars’ parent club – the team’s lineup will feature four players from that 2010 championship club, and two more are currently on the Washington roster. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth will start tonight against the Stars, and defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner are core players on the Washington blueline. Forward Cody Eakin will also be in the lineup tonight while forward Mathieu Perreault will be a healthy scratch and forward Jay Beagle is on injured reserve. On the opposite bench, the Stars will only have one player – forward Jamie Benn – who skated for the Texas Stars in the 2010 Calder Cup final. Benn is currently tied for the Dallas team lead in scoring with 15 points (four goals, 11 assists). Benn didn’t play a single regular-season game for the Texas Stars in 2009-10, but was with them all throughout their playoff run. Dallas reassigned Benn to the Austin-based Texas Stars at the conclusion of his rookie NHL season with Dallas. After firing head coach Marc Crawford at season’s end last spring, the Dallas braintrust promoted Texas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan and his entire staff to Big D. In his first stint behind an NHL bench, Gulutzan and company have the Stars off to a swift 10-3 start, the best in the NHL. Gulutzan remembers that not-so-long-ago series between his Texas Stars and the Bears quite well. “They were so good,” he says of the Bears. “They’re such good players: Alzner and Carlson and Neuvirth and Perreault. They’re good players. It was a great series. If we had a rewind, we might have done some things a little different. But you don’t. “It’s a different level obviously now, but it’s going to be exciting to play. Our coaching staff is excited to play these guys.”
Tuesday night’s mediocre performance against the Dallas Stars led to a 5-2 loss, and then to a lengthy Wednesday practice for the Capitals. The tenor of today’s practice was not a surprise to anyone; some players and coach Bruce Boudreau alluded to what was coming in post-game comments last night.