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Jiri Hudler likely to be out through weekend

Stars forward expected to miss back-to-back games against Blackhawks because of illness

by Sean Shapiro / Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Stars right wing Jiri Hudler is expected to miss at least two more games because of illness.

Hudler didn't play in the Stars 6-2 win against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday and didn't practice Friday. Earlier this season, he missed five games dealing with illness, but returned to the lineup Oct. 29 and Nov. 1. 

"He's still not feeling well," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's battling something that has been tough on him.

"He's not here today, so I would say yes [he's out]." 

Hudler, 32, has no points in four games with the Stars. He signed a one-year, $2 million contract with Dallas on Aug. 24. He had 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) in 72 games last season with the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers.

Rookie forward Gemel Smith is expected to remain in the lineup when the Stars play back-to-back games against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday in Dallas and on Sunday in Chicago.

Smith, 22, has played in five of the Stars past six games since being recalled from the American Hockey League. It's been a big jump for Smith, who spent time in the ECHL and AHL last season and has yet to score his first point in the NHL.

"I was telling (Stars defenseman Esa Lindell) that each morning I wake up and slap myself to make sure I'm still here," Smith said. "I always wanted an opportunity, but honestly didn't expect anything like this to happen this quick."

Smith nearly scored his first goal against St. Louis on Thursday when he hit the post in the third period.

"I think he's been a real good story," Ruff said. "I think it's a great example that if you show enough in camp, you're the guy that's going to get that first opportunity … when that opportunity arose he took advantage of it. It's totally unexpected. Was he on the radar? I'd say not at all."

The Stars also are missing injured forwards Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), and Patrick Sharp (concussion).

Janmark and Hemsky each are expected to miss at least five months. Eakin hasn't practiced since injuring his knee on the first day of training camp. Sharp has started exercising, but hasn't skated since being checked by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb on Oct. 20. 

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