The Dallas Stars will shake things up as they open a three-game road trip tonight in Anaheim, making changes in goal and on defense and shuffling the forward lines.
Dan Ellis will get the start in against the Ducks. Kari Lehtonen, who has started the last nine games and leads all NHL goaltenders in minutes played this season, will get the night off.
“Kari just has a little fatigue in his game and he’s played a lot,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “It’s an opportunity to let him freshen up. We’ve got this game and then a couple days [off], so it gives him a good rest here before the break.”
It will be Ellis’ first start since the Jan. 12 game against the New York Islanders and just his third in the last 22 games.
“We’re in a battle for a playoff position and there are times when you really have to ride your number one guy,” Ellis said. “There have been big stretches of that and either way you have to be ready to go in if there is an injury, an off game or if there is an opportunity like this to start a game. That’s kind of the job, you are always prepared.”
Ruff is shuffling things around on the forward lines for tonight’s game. He’s breaking up the Antoine Roussel-Cody Eakin-Ryan Garbutt line in hopes of finding more offense.
“They’ve done a good job on a checking sense, but on the offensive side they haven’t put anything up on the board,” said Ruff. “Our top line needs some support and we haven’t had a lot for them the last couple. The previous road games were a little tough, too.”
Eakin is expected to center a line with Rich Peverley and Erik Cole on the wings. Roussel and Garbutt will play on a line with center Vernon Fiddler. That’s a line Ruff has used before.
“Those three have had some good games together. It’s a good option. We’ve gone there before and hopefully it works. If not, we can flip it back,” Ruff said.
There will be a change on defense, as well. Kevin Connauton, who has been a healthy scratch the last five games, will be back in the lineup. Aaron Rome is expected to sit out.
Jonas Hiller is expected to start in goal for the Ducks tonight.
Who: Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim
When: 9:00 p.m.
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Rich Peverley – Cody Eakin – Erik Cole
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Ray Whitney – Shawn Horcoff – Alex Chiasson
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton – Sergei Gonchar
Ducks projected lineup
Dustin Penner - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Patrick Maroon - Mathieu Perreault - Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano - Saku Koivu - Jakob Silfverberg
Matt Beleskey - Daniel Winnik - Tim Jackman
Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy
Hampus Lindholm - Francois Beauchemin
Luca Sbisa - Mark Fistric
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.