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Morning Skate: Stars Ontario Boys Return Home vs Leafs

It will be a hometown reunion for seven players and the Head Coach of the Dallas Stars when they travel to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

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Tonight marks the fourth game of the season for the Dallas Stars. But it is also going to be a massive reunion for seven Ontario boys as well as Head Coach Pete DeBoer, as they return home to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Among those players is 19-year-old Wyatt Johnston, who will play his first NHL game North of the border. Johnston recorded his first goal in his first career game in Nashville and is on game four of his nine-game tryout with Dallas.

The other six Ontario natives are Tyler Seguin, Mason Marchment, Ty Dellandrea, Joel Hanley, Scott Wedgewood, and Colin Miller.

Perhaps the most intriguing of those are the trio of Marchment, Seguin, and Dellandrea that make up the Stars second line. 

In just three games, that line has accounted for 10 points, with the newcomer Marchment (5) leading the way. The line, specifically the combination of Marchment and Seguin, has found immediate success, something that may not have been a surprise to DeBoer. 

“I thought Seguin needs a guy like that with him [Marchment],” DeBoer said. “I think Jamie Benn’s been a version of that over the years for him. That was a combination I started to think about over the summer.”

The line seems to have it all. Seguin looks like his old self after recovering from multiple major injuries and Marchment has the perfect combination of grit and skill that allows those two to feed off of each other.

“Physical skill is probably a great way to put it,” DeBoer said. “Listen, Seguin’s not alone there. There’s a reason Evander Kane’s on [Connor] McDavid’s line. Great players, skill players like that need some of that element with them.”

Dellandrea has been the perfect fit to complete the trio. He is a pure hustle player that can pressure the puck, cause turnovers, and he has the skill to turn it into offense as we saw on Monday night against the Jets. It took some time for Dellandrea to develop, especially with COVID forcing things to shift. But the 22-year-old took off in the AHL at the end of last season and looks ready for the highest level this time around. 

“That’s my game, right?” Dellandrea said. “I try to play heavy and hard as well as make plays and be offensive. It is slowly starting to come more offensively and I think I have another step to go.” 

Starting Goalie: Scott Wedgewood, one of the Ontario natives, is expected to make his season debut for Dallas against the Leafs after Jake Oettinger started the first three games for the Stars. 

“We’re going to get Wedgie in for sure,” DeBoer said. “He’s going to play, he might play a couple, I don’t know, but he’s going to play.” 

Stars Projected Lines

  • Robertson-Hintz-Pavelski
  • Marchment-Seguin-Dellandrea
  • Benn-Johnston-Gurianov
  • Faksa-Glendening-Kiviranta
  • Heiskanen-Miller
  • Suter-Hakanpää
  • Lindell-Lundkvist
  • Wedgewood
  • Oettinger

Maple Leafs Scouting Report 

The Leafs are always an interesting challenge. They are a heavily-offensive team with multiple superstars, yet their defense has been iffy for a long time. Last season, Toronto swept Dallas (0-1-1), the highlight coming when Auston Matthews scored his record-tying (55) and record-setting (56) goals in an overtime win in Dallas last April. 

This season, the Leafs are off to a mediocre 2-2-0 start, in which they have only scored 11 total goals (2.75 goals per game) and lost at home to the Arizona Coyotes. 

Toronto has been hit with massive injuries, including starting goaltender Matt Murray, and defensemen Jake Muzzin and Jordie Benn. Although the Benn brothers won’t do battle on Thursday, another set of brothers will. 

All of the injuries have forced them to make some call-ups from the AHL. One of those call-ups is Jason Robertson’s brother, Nick Robertson. 

Sam’s Three Keys

  • Continue to play fast
  • Wedgewood be Wedgewood
  • Don’t let Auston Matthews find his game (only two points in four games so far) 

He Said It 

“I’m excited. This is our first time to actually get out and spend a week together around each other every day,” DeBoer said about the team’s first road trip. “All of that allows you to start building relationships with guys and be able to have conversations and time with guys that you don't get to have when you are at home.” 

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