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Hanzal progressing, will miss second consecutive game at Jets

Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock is optimistic the forward will rejoin the lineup Saturday or Monday

by Scott Burnside @OvertimeScottB / DallasStars.com

KELOWNA, British Columbia -- Here's a quick update on all things Dallas Stars as the team prepares to make its way to Winnipeg for the fifth and final game on this road trip Thursday night.

Martin Hanzal, limited by a lower-body injury, did not skate with the full group Wednesday morning, although he did skate briefly on his own before the main group practiced. He will not play Thursday in Winnipeg, and the team has called up Jason Dickinson from the American Hockey League, where he's been on fire with six goals thus far.

Hanzal is expected to skate hard Thursday, and head coach Ken Hitchcock is optimistic Hanzal will rejoin the lineup when the team returns home for games Saturday and Monday.

Dickinson will play, which means another forward will have to come out of the lineup -- likely Remi Elie or Gemel Smith, although Smith has been the more impressive of the two, making a visible impact since coming back in the lineup two games ago.

Video: Dickinson in against Jets

The Dickinson call-up is the other shoe dropping from the move Tuesday to send defenseman Julius Honka to Texas, especially with Hanzal's day-to-day status.

"Honka went down, and this allows us to have some flexibility with some forward positions," Hitchcock said.

Mildly surprised that Dickinson will step right into the lineup, but he did have an impressive training camp and start to the AHL season.

"Speed, tenacity, hard on the puck -- he's got a real edge to him," Hitchcock said. "He's a little bit like Elie; probably deserved to be on the team coming out of training camp, but there was no room at that time. Now, he's earned that right to see what he can do. He adds another level of size and skill to our group, which is going to help us."

 

Johns slated to return Thursday

In other Stars news, headed into Thursday's game, as expected, defenseman Stephen Johns will rejoin the Dallas lineup after going through concussion protocol. He suffered an injury in a collision with Colorado's Matt Duchene in the first game of the road trip more than a week ago.

"I think when you get injured, you kind of have to take a back seat for a while and focus on yourself -- almost you kind of have to be selfish and deal with your injury so you can get back and help the team in the ways that you were helping before," Johns said after Wednesday's skate in Kelowna.

Johns has come in for high praise from Hitchcock and the coaching staff this season and will likely play top-four minutes paired with Esa Lindell.

"I think if you go back two years ago, I think that was more of the player I am than last year," said Johns, who struggled to find a place in the Stars lineup last season as the team fell out of the playoffs.

"I think that's what I'm trying to get back to and kind of not forget about last year but learn from last year and just do things differently, approach differently with a different mindset."

 

Bish mode

Ben Bishop, coming off a strong performance in Monday's 2-1 victory over Vancouver will close out the road trip with the start in Winnipeg.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. You can follow Scott on Twitter @OvertimeScottB, and listen to his Burnside Chats podcast here.

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