DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars are still looking to get new head coach Lindy Ruff his first win behind their bench. And in Saturday's game with the Washington Capitals at American Airlines Center, the Stars will see Rich Peverley for the first time in a Dallas uniform.
Peverley, 31, was acquired in the July 4 trade with the Boston Bruins that sent Loui Eriksson and two others to Boston for Peverley, Tyler Seguin and defenseman Ryan Button. However, the veteran center was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat before the start of training camp and missed the entire preseason before returning to full practice for the first time Friday morning.
On Saturday, he will debut on the Stars' fourth line alongside Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt, and he couldn't be happier to finally be back in the mix with his new club.
"It will be good to be a part of the gameday preparations, just kind of get in a routine again and be a part of this locker room,"Peverley said Saturday morning.
Ruff said the Stars are easing Peverley back into things and will see how he fares in Saturday's game to properly gauge where he's currently at with his timing and ability to be a steady contributor on the ice.
"We're going to try to get him back in and get him going. He hasn't got any preseason in him. We've tried to simulate some game situations for him, but there's nothing like playing in a game," Ruff said. "Try to get him a little bit of power play time, try to get him some even strength time. We'll see where he's at during the game and if he's good, the ice time may go up. It's really to get him back in and try to get him up to game speed.”
Plugging Peverley into the fourth line is the only lineup change Ruff will make from the group that lost 4-2 to the Florida Panthers to open the season on Thursday.
But one Dallas player is especially looking forward to seeing the Capitals. Center Cody Eakin was drafted by Washington in the third round of the 2009 NHL Draft and played 30 games for the Capitals in the 2011-12 season before coming to the Stars in a draft-day trade that sent Mike Ribeiro to the nation's capital.
"I'm excited. I'm excited to play them. It's obviously the first time and I think it will be fun,"Eakin said of facing his former club.
Washington beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 in a shootout on Thursday to even their record at 1-1-0 and it appears Capitals coach Adam Oates will only make one change to his lineup from Thursday's win with either Steve Oleksy or Alexander Urbom coming in for Jack Hillen alongside Connor Carrick on Washington's third defensive pairing.
Hillen, who suffered a lower-body injury against the Flames and had to be hospitalized, had surgery on Friday and is expected to miss the next 4-6 months.
Here are the projected lineups for Saturday night.
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Brooks Laich – Mikhail Grabovski – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Eric Fehr – Joel Ward
Martin Erat – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – Mike Green
John Erskine – John Carlson
Alexander Urbom – Connor Carrick
Scratched: Steve Oleksy, Aaron Volpatti.
Injured: Jack Hillen (lower body).
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Erik Cole
Ray Whitney – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Rich Peverley – Ryan Garbutt
Alex Goligoski – Sergei Gonchar
Brenden Dillon – Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley – Jordie Benn
Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Lane MacDermid, Chris Mueller.
Injured: Scott Glennie (knee), Aaron Rome (hip surgery).