Off to a 3-3-0 start that saw his team beat the previously unbeaten San Jose Sharks 4-3 in a shootout Thursday, Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff had few complaints about his top two forward lines.
His top-six forwards have produced, particularly leading scorer Tyler Seguin (eight points in six games), captain Jamie Benn (five assists in six games) and rookie Alex Chiasson (three goals in six games). But when it comes to his third and fourth lines, Ruff has made it clear what he wants to see from them.
"Energy. Along with energy comes some production," said Ruff, who said he saw some positives from his checking lines in the team's 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. "I thought the Colorado game was a game where they could have made a difference. They had three or four great scoring chances and didn't put it away. Even the [Shawn] Horcoff line could have made the game 3-2 and had a couple of other chances. With our top two lines going the way they are, if three and four can provide that, that's a good mix for our team."
That depth scoring up front will be needed Saturday as the Stars face the Los Angeles Kings, who have won four of their past five.
But it might not just be Dallas' forward depth that is tested during the team's Southern California weekend road trip that will see the Stars play the Kings and Anaheim Ducks in back-to-back nights. With franchise goaltender Kari Lehtonen still out with a lower-body injury, the team could turn to rookie Jack Campbell on Sunday against Anaheim. Campbell was called up by the Stars this week and the 21-year-old could make his NHL debut in the second half of the back-to-back games.
Ruff said he is looking forward to seeing how Campbell responds should he be called into duty.
"I think every goalie has got to get through that. If we go in that direction, Jack is going to welcome the opportunity," Ruff said. "I think any young kid would. How he handles that is [up to] your own personal makeup."
Here is the projected lineup for the Kings, according to Jon Rosen of LAKingsInsider.com:
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Daniel Carcillo - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis
Jordan Nolan - Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser
Robyn Regehr - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Jake Muzzin - Matt Greene
Scratched: Matt Frattin, Keaton Ellerby, Alec Martinez
Here is the projected lineup for the Stars, according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News:
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Rich Peverley
Ray Whitney - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson
Valeri Nichushkin - Shawn Horcoff - Erik Cole
Antoine Roussel - Vernon Fiddler - Ryan Garbutt
Brenden Dillon - Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley - Jordie Benn
Alex Goligoski - Sergei Gonchar
Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Aaron Rome, Lane MacDermid
Injured: Kari Lehtonen (lower body), Scott Glennie (knee)