Ben Bishop is expected to play the entire game tonight when the Dallas Stars continue their preseason schedule, taking on the Colorado Avalanche at American Airlines Center.
It will be preseason game No. 4 of 6 for the Stars, who will close out the schedule with two games against Minnesota -- one in Dallas on Tuesday and the other in St. Paul on Saturday.
Monday night's lineup for the Stars will be a mix of top players and those who are vying to land spots on the opening-night roster.
"Both teams are bringing in loaded groups, and that's good for us," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "We're going to get a good evaluation. In the next two games, we're bringing people that are competing against each other - even though they are on our team - they are competing against each other for the same spots. We want to see how that competition plays out on who we are going to keep and who has to start with Texas (AHL)."
The Stars are expected to go with a top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov for tonight's tilt with the Avalanche. The rest of the forward lines have several players in the mix for spots, including Roope Hintz who is making a strong push to make the opening night roster. The question for Hintz is if he will be ready to be a full-time NHL player.
Video: Oleksiak on roster competition
"It's either play him up here or play him down there," Hitchcock said. "To have a young player as an extra player here is not a good situation. So, for us, he's either playing full time up here, or he is playing full time down there. And we are still trying to evaluate if he is ready now."
On defense, the Stars are expected to go with John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Jamie Oleksiak, Stephen Johns, Patrik Nemeth and Julius Honka. Hitchcock has been singing the praises of Oleksiak in recent days, saying the big defenseman is making a strong push for quality playing time on the Dallas blue line.
"I feel pretty good, and it's nice when people recognize the work you put in during the summer," Oleksiak said. "I know it's just the first step, and there is a long way to go, but I am just taking it day by day and trying to make the most of this opportunity."
Kari Lehtonen will backup Bishop tonight and is expected to play the full game when the Stars host Minnesota Tuesday in preseason game number five.
The Stars, who are 2-1-0 in preseason play, are coming off a 4-0 win in St. Louis Saturday. Colorado, which is 2-2-0 this preseason, defeated Minnesota, 5-1, in Denver Sunday. Monday's game is the second meeting of the preseason between the Stars and Avalanche. Colorado won, 5-1, in Denver last Thursday.
Center Martin Hanzal, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury, practiced with the team Monday morning in Frisco. Hitchcock said the goal is to get Hanzal in the final preseason game which is Saturday in Minnesota. "He participated as a full-time player today even though he wore a red sweater," Hitchcock said. "He's going to be a full-time practice player on Thursday and Friday to get ready to play on Saturday."
Defenseman Marc Methot did not practice Monday. He got dinged up in Saturday's preseason game in St. Louis. Hitchcock said the Stars decided to give Methot a couple of days off. The goal is for him to play in Tuesday's game. "He was sore. He'll skate tomorrow," Hitchcock said. "We opted to give him two full days off. We planned it yesterday to hopefully get him ready to play tomorrow."
Defensemen Andrew Bodnarchuk and Ludwig Bystrom, forwards Justin Dowling and Mark McNeill and goaltender Mike McKenna all cleared waivers Monday and were assigned to the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Who: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
Stars Projected Lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Devin Shore - Roope Hintz - Brett Ritchie
Remi Elie - Adam Cracknell - Denis Gurianov
Curtis McKenzie - Gemel Smith - R.J. Umberger
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns
Patrik Nemeth - Julius Honka
This story was not subject to 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.