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Morning Skate: Bowness Finally Returns, Stars Debut Reverse Retro vs Jets

Former Stars Head Coach Rick Bowness makes his return to Dallas, as the Stars and Jets battle in an important Central Division showdown.

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Former Stars Head Coach Rick Bowness will finally make his much-anticipated return to Dallas, as the Stars take on the Winnipeg Jets for the final time in the regular season. 

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for him,” DeBoer said of Bowness. “When I took the job, some of my opening comments reflected on that. I think he did a fantastic job here in laying a foundation of defending and being hard to play against and playoff success in hockey. His fingerprints are on this group from his time here.”

Bowness had a special tenure in Dallas. After serving as Assitant Coach for a season and a half, he was named the Interim Head Coach of the Stars due to the unsuspected firing of Jim Montgomery. Bowness led the Stars to one of the best records in the league and brought them on a Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Final in the Edmonton Bubble ("We're not going home"). Bowness coached the next two seasons as Head Coach before stepping down last summer. 

Over his time as bench boss for Dallas, Bowness held a record of 89-62-25 and brought the Stars to the playoffs in two of three seasons. The 67-year-old also coached his 2,500th NHL game nearly a year ago. 

“He’s going to have them emotionally engaged in the game tonight,” he added. “This is an important game for him coming home, there’s no hiding that.”

The Stars and Jets have split the season series so far. Both games have been lopsided, with Dallas winning the first meeting in October, 4-1, and Winnipeg returning the favor 5-1 on Nov. 8 up North. 

Denis Gurianov’s promotion: Denis Gurianov will be moving up the lineup tonight, as he skated on the Stars second line with Mason Marchment and Tyler Seguin. Gurianov returned from injury on Wednesday, recording an assist in his first game since that Nov. 8 matchup with the Jets. 

“Yeah, I thought he was really good,” DeBoer said. “Do it again.”

Gurianov has experience playing on this second line. The same trio was put together in Montreal when Ty Dellandrea was bumped down to support Jamie Benn on the third line. That experiment certainly worked for that group, now it is time to see if this dangerous trio can find their stride. 

New jersey alert: The Stars will debut their 2022 ‘Reverse Retro’ jerseys tonight. 

This will be the first of five times that Dallas rocks these sweet uniforms this season. 

Starting goaltender: Jake Oettinger will start his fourth straight game. Oettinger has seen his numbers dip a bit but has come up big when needed most. Even with those dips, the 23-year-old still maintains a very respectable .924 save percentage (6th) and 2.32 goals-against average (6th). 

“He’s been great all year. Gives you a chance to win every night," DeBoer said. "That was a tough game the other night. We’re down 4-1, we’re pushing to get back in the game. When you push, you open it up the other way. They might not have gotten a lot of chances but the looks they do get are good ones. Those are tough games for goalies to play in. He found a way to get us a win, which is important. You’ve got to win all kinds of different ways in this league over 82 games”

Stars Projected Lines

  • Jason Robertson – Roope Hintz – Joe Pavelski
  • Mason Marchment – Tyler Seguin – Denis Gurianov
  • Jamie Benn – Wyatt Johnston – Ty Dellandrea
  • Joel Kiviranta – Radek Faksa – Luke Glendening
  • Miro Heiskanen – Colin Miller
  • Ryan Suter – Nils Lundkvist
  • Esa Lindell – Jani Hakanpaa
  • Jake Oettinger
  • Scott Wedgewood

Jets Scouting Report 

Winnipeg has been neck-in-neck with Dallas for the top spot in the Central Division all season long. They currently sit four points back, but have played two fewer games than the Stars. 

In their last outing, the Jets were overrun 6-1 by the Minnesota Wild. That coming after allowing three 6-on-5 goals and being forced to win in overtime after holding a 3-0 late lead against Carolina, means they should be alert and ready to go tonight in Dallas. 

In a rare instance, defenseman Josh Morrissey leads all Jets skaters with 19 points. Mark Scheifele leads the group with 10 goals. 

He Said It 

“When we look at that game, we didn’t do a lot well. And you have to give them credit, they were great.,” DeBoer said of the 5-1 loss in Winnipeg. “It should be a warning shot across our bow of what to be prepared for tonight. They beat us 5-1, really dominated the game. We have to show up and be ready to play and have a better effort.”

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