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Jamie Benn to make preseason debut with Stars

Dallas captain has yet to play after offseason surgery on injured core muscle

by Sean Shapiro / Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn will make his preseason debut Tuesday against the Florida Panthers at American Airlines Center.

The Stars have been patient with Benn after he had offseason surgery to repair an injured core muscle. Benn has been a full participant in practice since the start of training camp but was held out of scrimmages and preseason games as a precaution.

"Everything has gone according to plan here," Benn said Tuesday after the morning skate. "This was the game I was aiming for to be a part of and I'm feeling good enough to be able to play. I'm looking forward to it, hopefully it goes pretty well."

Practices have been good preparation, Benn said, but he'll have to adjust on the fly.

"This game is pretty fast, even with the preseason with a lot of young kids trying to make teams out there," Benn said. "And they can all skate now too. Speed will be the first of it. Just the quick plays, and then try to get the hands back in it too."

This is the second straight season Benn has dealt with injuries in the preseason. He was coming off hip surgery entering the last season but played all 82 games, finished second in the NHL with 89 points and was a finalist for the Hart Trophy.

Benn said he feels ready to go, and Dallas coach Lindy Ruff isn't surprised that his captain has made a full recovery.

"I think that we did the right thing," Ruff said. "Hopefully we did the right thing again [this season] to get him through. He's a guy who can play through some discomfort, and some guys are better at that than others."

Benn was skating on a line with center Radek Faksa and right wing Patrick Eaves on Tuesday. Ruff said he likes the chemistry Benn has with Eaves, and he plans to give that unit opportunities on the power play.

While Benn prepares to return, other forwards are competing for an NHL job. Ruff said the fourth-line center spot is open after Cody Eakin's injury, so he's taking extended looks at Gemel Smith, Justin Dowling and Adam Cracknell.

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