|Taylor Hall will get the call to centre the Oilers top line tonight in Dallas. (QMI Agency/Perry Nelson)
DALLAS — Taylor Hall is expected to centre the top line as the Edmonton Oilers look for a rare win over the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines arena on Tuesday.
Hall is expected to start the game between Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky.
“We’ll see what kind of jam the coach has got, if he actually goes with that, and if he does, how long he lives with it,” smiled Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “But, why not? He’s played a lot of centre in junior on a Memorial Cup winning team, which he was pretty important to. We’ll have a look at it, I think as a trio, they can be very good. The important thing is, when they don’t have the puck to make sure they’re on the right side of it at the very least and we’ll see if that happens.”
Heading into Tuesday’s contest, the Oilers have beaten the Stars at home just once in their last seven visits.
Nikolai Khabibulin will get the start in goal for the Oilers, while defenceman Taylor Chorney, called up from Oklahoma City, also draws into the lineup.
“I think our start will be important, this is good team that are playing awfully well right now,” said Renney. “We have to make sure to try and put the pressure on them, force them to read the rush and come back in their own end.
“I think a big part of this game, because they push the puck well, is we have to make sure we have good changes. They can take advantage of a bad change quickly and we have to make sure that we push the pace off the bench.”
The Stars head into the contest first in the Pacific Division, but having lost their last five at home. This is the first of three meetings between the teams this month.
“We have to play a better brand of hockey here at home than we have in the last little while,” said Stars head coach Marc Crawford. “We haven’t found a way to enter the win column. We can talk about maybe we should have a better result in some of the games, but at the end of the day, we have to be sure that we try to get it done tonight.
“It’ll be a challenge, the Oilers have played a competitive brand of hockey all year long and they’ve gotten points in half their games this year and with young players they don’t have fear, so we expect it to be an entertaining game.”
Notes … Tuesday’s game will feature five players selected to take part in the NHL All-Star weekend at the end of the month. Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson of the Stars were selected to take part in the game as was Oilers winger Ales Hemsky. All will be making their first appearance. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, meanwhile, have been selected to take part in the rookie skills competition.