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Stars' Ritchie in spotlight for season debut

Will play on Dallas' top line against Devils

by Steve Hunt / NHL.com Correspondent

DEVILS (31-27-7) at STARS (38-20-7)

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-SW, NHL.TV

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars forward Brett Ritchie will see his first NHL action of the season against the New Jersey Devils at American Airlines Center on Friday.

 

A second-round pick (No. 44) in the 2011 NHL Draft, Ritchie, 25, was recalled from Texas of the American Hockey League on Thursday, with whom he had 28 points (14 goals) in 35 games.

Ritchie had nine points (six assists) in 31 NHL games last season, his most recent action with the Stars on March 30, 2015 against the Calgary Flames.

Considering he'll be skating on Dallas' top line alongside captain Jamie Benn and center Tyler Seguin, who are both tied for second in the NHL with 65 points, Ritchie realizes what a big opportunity is in front of him.

"I played with them last year. I don't remember if I started a game with them, but I played some shifts with them," Ritchie said. "I will definitely try to get them the puck and make their life as easy as possible."

Stars coach Lindy Ruff liked what he saw from Ritchie late last season and expects more of the same this time around.

"[He's] a big guy (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) that can drive the net, get around the front, hang onto pucks," Ruff said of Ritchie. "I like the way our other lines have played and with [Patrick] Sharp going out, I think I'll give him a look right there to start the game and if he can handle it, [I'll] keep him there."

With his team mired in a four-game losing streak (0-3-1), Ruff shuffled his top two lines and his defensive pairings in practice on Thursday and during morning skate.

Goalie Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice at morning skate and will start for Dallas.

After the Devils won 5-4 in a shootout at the Nashville Predators on Thursday, New Jersey did not hold a morning skate on Friday.

Goalie Keith Kinkaid made 30 saves for the Devils against the Predators, but Cory Schneider is expected to start against the Stars.

Here are the projected lineups:

DEVILS

Reid Boucher - Adam Henrique - Devante Smith-Pelly

Sergey Kalinin - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri

Joseph Blandisi - Jacob Josefson - Tyler Kennedy

Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

John Moore - David Schlemko

Jon Merrill - Damon Severson

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Injured: Michael Cammalleri (upper body), Patrik Elias (knee), Jiri Tlusty (wrist).

Scratched: Tuomo Ruutu, David Warsofsky.

STARS

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Brett Ritchie

Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Valeri Nichushkin

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ales Hemsky

Radek Faksa - Vernon Fiddler - Colton Sceviour

Kris Russell - John Klingberg

Johnny Oduya - Jason Demers

Patrik Nemeth - Alex Goligoski

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Injured: Jordie Benn (lower body), Patrick Eaves (illness), Patrick Sharp (lower body).

Scratched: Travis Moen, Jamie Oleksiak.

Status report: Oleksiak is a healthy scratch for the 14th time over his past 15 games. … Ruff said on Thursday he doesn't expect Jordie Benn or Sharp to return until after a two-game road trip to Ottawa and Montreal. … Eaves, out the past five games due to illness, could return during the same trip.

Who's hot: New Jersey is 4-3-2 in the second game of back-to-backs. … Henrique has three goals over his past two games. … Larsson is plus-13 for the Devils, best among all New Jersey defensemen and second-best on the team. … Schlemko, a former Star who had two assists Friday in Nashville, has set career highs in goals, assists and points. … Zajac has a six-game road point streak. … Dallas is 16-9-2 against the Eastern Conference and 9-4-1 against the Metropolitan Division. … Faksa has seven points (six assists) in his past five games against the Devils. … Fiddler has goals in back-to-back games and needs one more to reach 100 for his career. … Seguin has 21 multi-point games this season, second in the NHL to Chicago Blackhawks center Patrick Kane, who has 22.

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