|Kevin Connauton and his linemate Cameron Gaunce have been lineup staples since the deadline. (Credit: Christina Shapiro)
Coach Desjardins hasn't made up his mind who will be in his defensive grouping yet, but stated, "I like having a group of guys that I go with. That may mean a group of 7, but it's not going to be a big group."
That may mean that your starting six (or seven) on Friday are the players the Stars expect to ice for the playoffs' duration. Desjardins cautions that the Stars wouldn't hesitate to shake things up if needed though.
"We'll see how it happens with the guys we've got. They'll get the first chance at it. If it doesn't go the way we want, maybe we'll look at someone else."
Continuing with the abundance of caution theme, Doug Lidster suggested against soothsaying based on current pairings, especially when asked about the consistently paired Cameron Gaunce and Kevin Connauton.
"Team defense and team play is about all six guys and the goaltender," Lidster intoned. "We'll pick the six that we think are going to do the job for us. I wouldn't read too much into the pairings [as we've had them]."
As a refresher, Texas has Gaunce, Connauton, Oleksiak, Wrenn, Commodore, Morrow, Sloan, Fortunus, Nemeth, Jokipakka and potentially Benn. You can take Nemeth off the list for now. After being out for 24 games, Nemeth was re-injured in the Friday game against Houston and did not play the third period or Saturday's game.
The prospect-aged players on contract to Dallas are the most likely to play at first glance, but don't think that Desjardins wouldn't bench a player on Dallas contract to put in a guy like Wrenn if something wasn't up to snuff. The coaching staff has used ice time as a tool all season to great effect. There is no coasting in Willie Desjardins hockey.
Balancing all the veterans in the lineup is another challenge, but Lidster feels that veteran presence does not have to be on the ice to be effective.
"The experience can come from more ways than just on the ice. The veteran players that have been out of the line up have been just terrific with the young guys, taking them under their wing and working with them."
Lidster added though, "At this time of the year, even our first year players are experienced players."