Haven’t we seen this before?
Two of the Western Conference’s best players come into Consol Energy Center on one of the preseason’s most hyped teams.
Last week it was the Anaheim Ducks with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Tonight it’s the Dallas Stars with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
Benn and Seguin each had huge games earlier this week at Columbus — a total of seven points, with Seguin netting a hat trick.
“When you look at those combinations of players, you’re looking at some of the top players in the league,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. “Certainly when they’re playing together like they were the other night — I’ve watched the last two games and a little bit of the Chicago game — I thought their line has been good. They’ve changed a winger on different nights.
“Benn and Seguin complement each other because you’ve got skill and power. With Getzlaf and Perry, you have power and skill together with both of those guys. When you look at it as the coach at home, you have the last change. You have to make sure your matchups heading into the game are the right ones.”
Along with Getzlaf and Perry, Benn (34-45–79) and Seguin (37-47–84) were the only set of teammates with at least 30 goals and 75 points.
Because you’ll look it up: Sidney Crosby (36-68—104) and Evgeni Malkin (23-49—72) were close.
“They’re definitely a fast team that likes to skate,” Penguins center Brandon Sutter said. “They have some great offensive players. We have to be pretty sharp. We expect a fast game.”
It will be interesting to see if Penguins coach Mike Johnston matches his top line of Chris Kunitz, Crosby and Patric Hornqvist against Benn and Seguin’s line or against the Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky line.
One thing’s for sure, Johnston doesn’t automatically want his third or fourth lines out there to counter the other team’s scoring lines.
“Will we play our top lines against top lines? We will at times, for sure,” Johnston said. “We feel our top lines are as good defensively as they are offensively. We’ll challenge their line to be as good defensively.”
Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he would no problem playing his top line against Crosby’s line or Malkin, Sutter and Pascal Dupuis.
“We’ve played a lot of top line versus top line,” Ruff said. “I think you’ll probably see that. If that’s what he wants, I haven’t been too concerned with changing on the fly or trying to change things up. We’ve got a couple looks we can (go to). At times, if we want another look, we can look another way. When you’re trying to get your top line on the ice 19 or 20 minutes, they have to play against other teams’ top lines.”
News out of the skate: The Penguins actually did line rushes this morning, but expect them to look this way tonight at your own peril. Here’s what they rolled with:
Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Patric Hornqvist
Evgeni Malkin-Brandon Sutter-Pascal Dupuis
Blake Comeau-Marcel Goc-Steve Downie
Craig Adams-Nick Spaling-Zach Sill
Paul Martin-Christian Ehrhoff
Olli Maatta-Kris Letang
Simon Despres-Rob Scuderi
Andrew Ebbett-Scott Harrington
TV/radio: Root Sports/105.9 FM
About the Stars: Dallas (1-1-1, 3 points) is coming off its first win of the season: 4-2 at Columbus on Tuesday. Seguin had a hat trick, Benn finished with four points, and goaltender Kari Lehtonen made 33 saves. … Seguin’s hat trick was the fifth of his career and fourth with Dallas. … No one can accused the Stars of standing pat following their first trip to the postseason since 2008. They traded for Jason Spezza and signed fellow forwards Ales Hemsky and Patrick Eaves. … Former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar is on the Stars’ roster, but he’s currently out with a lower-body injury.
The series: The Penguins have won six consecutive games against the Stars in Pittsburgh. … Pittsburgh is 8-2 in its last 10 against Dallas. … Dallas won the most recent meeting — 3-0 on Jan. 25 of last season — when Lehtonen (24 saves) pitched a shutout and Gonchar got the game-winning goal. … Spezza leads all current Stars in goals (16), assists (27) and points (43) in 36 career games against the Penguins.
Next up: Penguins vs. New York Islanders, Saturday, 7 p.m.