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Stars mull line changes; Smith-Pelly in for Ducks

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- The top line of the Dallas Stars was effective in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round, but coach Lindy Ruff appears open to experimentation.

Veteran wing Ray Whitney took rookie Valeri Nichushkin's place with center Tyler Seguin and left wing Jamie Benn at the morning skate Friday before Game 2 against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS, FS-SW, PRIME).

"I didn't have the lines in colors today," Ruff told reporters. "I don't know how you came to that assumption. … I think you guys are busy chasing nothing."

Asked if he plans on changing the lines, Ruff said, "Yeah," but wouldn't elaborate. He later let it slip that wing Alex Chiasson could see time with Benn and Seguin.

Whitney, 41, didn't know what to expect if he starts out with speedsters Benn, 24, and Seguin, 22.

"I guess I'll be passing it up to them most of the night," Whitney said. "I've had that scenario in Carolina with [Eric] Staal and [Erik] Cole, so that's a role I'm used to.

"It's a tall order to play with those two, for sure. We'll see what tonight brings, but it brings excitement."

Whatever the lines, it's an admission Dallas is looking for scoring depth after Benn and Seguin, who each had a goal and an assist in the 4-3 Game 1 loss. Ruff pointed to his other younger players, including center Colton Sceviour.

"They've all had a big impact on our team," Ruff said. "For us to win this series, they're going to have to have an impact on this series, because it's going to take more than Seguin and Benn. We're depending on them to get it done. The pressure's not on them, but we need them."

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed forward Matt Beleskey will not play because of a lower-body injury. Devante Smith-Pelly will take Beleskey's spot at top-line left wing in his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut. Smith-Pelly was one of the odd men out in Anaheim's young forward rotation. He has nine goals in 75 NHL games.

Smith-Pelly was reassigned to the American Hockey League in November and wasn't recalled until earlier this month. He said he understood the situation.

"I would say [I'm] nervous, excited," Smith-Pelly said. "I'm just going to try and look at it as any other game … close to game time there might a little nerves, but that's expected."

Dallas defenseman Brenden Dillon did not skate and does not appear recovered from a lower-body injury.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie Benn - Tyler SeguinRay Whitney

Antoine RousselCody EakinAlex Chiasson

Erik ColeShawn HorcoffRyan Garbutt

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerValeri Nichushkin

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley

Patrik NemethJordie Benn

Aaron RomeSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Tim Thomas

Scratched: Chris Mueller, Kevin Connauton

Injured: Brenden Dillon (lower body), Rich Peverley (heart)


Devante Smith-PellyRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Jakob SilfverbergSaku KoivuAndrew Cogliano

Patrick MaroonMathieu PerreaultTeemu Selanne

Daniel WinnikNick BoninoKyle Palmieri

Hampus LindholmFrancois Beauchemin

Cam FowlerBen Lovejoy

Bryan AllenStephane Robidas

Frederik Andersen

Jonas Hiller

Scratched: Rickard Rakell, Sami Vatanen, Luca Sbisa, John Gibson

Injured: Matt Beleskey (lower body), Tim Jackman (hand), Mark Fistric (lower body), Sheldon Souray (wrist)

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