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'Close' but not ready, Bishop to miss third straight game

Still battling an upper-body injury, the Stars goaltender could return against Tampa Bay or Carolina

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Stars goaltender Ben Bishop did not practice Monday in Frisco, and coach Jim Montgomery said Bishop is still not ready to return from the upper-body injury that has sidelined him the last two games.

"Bish right now we do not feel is a player for Florida," Montgomery said. "Again, it's a day-to-day thing, and as soon as he feels he can play his position at his level he is a player. It's close, but it's not there yet."

Montgomery said Bishop, who was injured in last Monday's 5-4 win over Arizona in Dallas, could be ready to play Thursday at Tampa Bay or Saturday at Carolina.

 

[GOALS WANTED: What's the Stars' next challenge? Finding a solution for road scoring woes, says Mike Heika]

 

For now, though, the Stars will go with Anton Khudobin, who will make his third straight start when the Stars play at Florida Tuesday.

"Having Khudobin affords us the luxury of waiting (on Bishop)," Montgomery said.

Khudobin, who ranks fifth in the league in save percentage (.924) and eighth in goals against average (2.45), has been outstanding for the Stars this season with his play and his compete level.

"It's a mentality that he thinks he can win every game," Montgomery said. "And when we don't win, he never looks at that the team didn't give me enough goals. He's mad that he gave up two or one, whatever the case may be. That fiery competitiveness resonates through everybody."

Montgomery made changes to his forward group in Monday's practice, juggling all four of his lines and said he'll roll out those lines in Tuesday's game. The changes involved putting Roope Hintz on a line with Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov and having Jason Dickinson centering Jamie Benn and Blake Comeau. Jason Spezza had Andrew Cogliano and Brett Ritchie on his wings and Radek Faksa centered Mattias Janmark and Valeri Nichushkin.

"We are going to start [Tuesday] with what you saw here today," Montgomery said. "I liked the way we were playing, even when we were winning, we were playing well. That's our identity, we have to play to that, but we still aren't scoring enough. So, why not try some other combinations especially when it looks like it might have got a little stale."

The Stars have run basically the same forward lines for the past seven games, posting a 5-1-1 record and averaging three goals per game. They've dropped the last two though, both on the road and have scored just two in each game. The Stars are averaging just 2.15 goals per game on the road, 29th in the league.

Video: Montgomery updates injury status of Bishop, Polak

Montgomery said he and his staff discussed whether to ride it out, keeping the current lines, or shake it up a little.

"It's a balance. We talked about it as a staff, and we didn't think we were generating enough," Montgomery said. "The benefit of having played is that you know yourself when things are getting stale and sometimes just switching wings can create that spark. And sometimes it is different bodies. We pretty much kept two bodies together on every line."

Along with the juggled lines, there will be a personnel change as well. Nichushkin will be coming into the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last three games.

"He knows what he looks like when he is a good player, and he knows what our team needs for our identity," Montgomery said. "It's up to him to play to his strengths, to play to our team's strengths for him to be able to stay in the lineup."

To make room for Nichushkin, Denis Gurianov will come out of the lineup after playing in the last seven games. Montgomery said Gurianov's confidence might be waning a bit.

"What I mean by that is I thought Denis took a couple of changes where he wasn't having any impact, and he looked like he wanted to change," Montgomery said. "When a player is like that he needs to rest and watch a game and then when he gets the opportunity he needs to realize the game is not as hard as he is mentally making it."

On defense, Roman Polak practiced Monday after leaving Saturday's game in Arizona with an upper-body injury after getting slammed into the boards by Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse. Montgomery said Polak is good to go for Tuesday.

There was no change as far as the defense pairs; they were the same as the last six games.

Here is how the Stars lined up in practice Monday:

Roope Hintz- Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Jamie Benn - Jason Dickinson - Blake Comeau
Andrew Cogliano - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Valeri Nichushkin
Denis Gurianov

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Taylor Fedun
Julius Honka - Connor Carrick

Anton Khudobin
Landon Bow

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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