Defenseman Aaron Rome will get into his first game of the season when the Dallas Stars take on the Nashville Predators tonight at Bridgestone Arena.
Rome hasn’t played for the Stars this season. He missed training camp, preseason and the start of the season due to offseason hip surgeries. He also had a recent muscle issue that set him back as well. He did get some playing time with the Texas Stars of the AHL, suiting up for a total of eight games in mid-October to early November.
“It looked like he was getting close, went and played some games and then got hurt in practice. It’s taken a while to get him up to speed again,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Tonight will give us a pretty good idea of what he can do for us in a defending category. He’s not a player we’re going to use on the offensive side, but penalty killing and strong defense should be his main suit.”
With Rome coming into the lineup, Kevin Connauton is expected to be the scratch on defense.
Forward Ryan Garbutt did not skate this morning. He’s a game-time decision. Garbutt apparently is still dealing with that foot/ankle injury he suffered when he was hit by a puck in the Dec. 3 game against Chicago.
Kari Lehtonen will start in goal for the Stars tonight. Carter Hutton will be in net for the Predators.
Stars center Vernon Fiddler skated with the team this morning, but he will miss his second straight game with an upper body injury. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said again today that Fiddler could be ready by the end of the Stars’ road trip.
“Fidds is getting better,” Ruff said. “I would think maybe by the weekend. I would think Winnipeg (Saturday) would be pushing it, but he is getting closer.”
Nystrom looking forward to matchup with Stars
Former Stars forward Eric Nystrom, who signed with Nashville as a free agent after last season, is looking forward to tonight’s matchup against his former team. It will be the first time Nystrom has faced the Stars since signing with the Predators.
“It’s always fun. I went to dinner with a bunch of the guys last night. Obviously playing against an old team for the first time is mixed emotions,” Nystrom said. “I was excited to see the guys, I am excited to play. It’s a huge game for us, we are right behind them in the standings, so there are no friends out there.”
Nystrom played two seasons with the Stars, registering 32 points (23 goals, 9 assists) in 122 games. The Stars acquired him from Minnesota.
“It was a great experience, I really enjoyed it. I was treated well and the organization was so top notch,” Nystrom said of his time in Dallas. “Gully [former Stars coach Glen Gulutzan] and Joe Nieuwendyk (former Stars GM) were huge in giving me an opportunity, and I am so grateful for them. I made some great friendships there, it was an awesome experience and I’ll never forget.”
Nystrom, who signed a four-year, $10 million contract with the Predators, has seven points (five goals, two assists) in 28 games.
Who: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Ray Whitney – Shawn Horcoff – Rich Peverley
Antoine Roussel – Dustin Jeffrey – Ryan Garbutt
Alex Goligoski – Brenden Dillon
Jordie Benn – Sergei Gonchar
Aaron Rome – Jamie Oleksiak
Predators projected lineup
Eric Nystrom – Mike Fisher – Viktor Stalberg
Colin Wilson – Matt Cullen – Gabriel Bourque
Nick Spaling – David Legwand – Patric Hornqvist
Rich Clune – Paul Gaustad – Matt Hendricks
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Victor Bartley – Kevin Klein
Seth Jones – Ryan Ellis
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.