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Hamhuis slated to return for Stars against Colorado

After missing the past two games with a groin injury, the defenseman should be paired with Stephen Johns

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

As expected, the Dallas Stars will make some changes on defense as they take on the Colorado Avalanche tonight at American Airlines Center.

Marc Methot will join John Klingberg on the top pair. Esa Lindell, who had been playing with Klingberg, will have Julius Honka as his partner. Dan Hamhuis returns after missing the past two games with a groin injury and should skate with Stephen Johns.

Coach Ken Hitchcock said he is looking for a little more balance to his defense pairs to keep the energy up over the course of the game.

"We want to use more people to defend," Hitchcock said. "We are wearing people out, and in the last part of the game I don't think we've had the energy that we think we are going to need to win games. Look, most of the games are won or lost in the third period, and we want to spread the wealth a little bit more and have our key guys have energy when the game is on the line."

With Hamhuis coming back in and Honka staying in the lineup for a third straight game, defenseman Jamie Oleksiak will be a healthy scratch for a first time this season.

Video: Pregame: DAL vs COL

"We're really happy with his play. He manages the puck well. He manages the game well. We're happy," Hitchcock said. "This lineup isn't locked in stone. We'll make changes if we see fit."

Ben Bishop was the first goaltender off the ice, so he is the expected starter in goal tonight for the Stars. Bishop is 1-1-0 with a 1.85 goals against average and .932 save percentage in three games played.

The Stars held an optional skate this morning, so there were no forward line rushes. The guess is the Stars go with the same lines used in Friday's practice but tonight's warm-ups will tell the tale.

The Stars enter tonight's game with a 1-3-0 record. They've played well at times, but it hasn't produced wins. Even-strength scoring has been an issue for the Stars who have only three five-on-five goals through four games. And some rough stretches of five to seven minutes have proved costly in a couple of games.

"The special teams have been good, and that's going to help us win games, but we've got to score more five-on-five goals," Klingberg said. "The momentum is going to change a lot in the game, and when it changes to their side, we are going to have to battle it out and find a way to not get scored on or give them too much energy. "


Avalanche Watch: Nemeth to face Stars

The Avalanche did not skate this morning. They won 3-1 over Anaheim last night in Denver. It was the third straight win for the Avalanche who are off to a 4-1-0 start. Forward Nathan MacKinnon left last night's game after taking a high stick to the eye, but he is expected to play tonight against the Stars. Semyon Varlamov will get the start in goal. He is 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals against average and .945 save percentage.

Tonight's game will be defenseman Patrik Nemeth's first game against the Stars. Nemeth, who was claimed off waivers by Colorado in early October, played 108 games with Dallas over four seasons. He's off to an impressive start with the Avalanche, registering three assists and a plus-seven rating in five games.

"I'm happy for him," said Stars defenseman John Klingberg. "He was kind of stuck here, and that happens sometimes. Good for him to get some new energy by going to a new team. He's such an underrated player."

Klingberg and Nemeth were both drafted by the Stars in 2010 and won a gold medal together at the World Junior Championship in 2012. They've been teammates in Dallas the past few seasons and tonight they'll play against each other.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Klingberg said. "I am going to put all the pucks into his corner tonight for sure."


Tonight's Game

Who: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM


Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Remi Elie - Martin Hanzal - Devin Shore
Mattias Janmark - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick

Marc Methot - John Klingberg
Esa Lindell - Julius Honka
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns

Ben Bishop
Kari Lehtonen

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Greg Pateryn, Gemel Smith
Injured: None


Avalanche Projected Lineup

Sven Andrighetto - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Alexander Kerfoot - Matt Duchene - Nail Yakupov
Gabriel Landeskog - J.T. Compher - Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Patrik Nemeth - Tyson Barrie
Mark Barberio - Chris Bigras

Semyon Varlamov
Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Anton Lindholm, Andrei Mironov
Injured: Tyson Jost (knee)

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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