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Eriksson, Smith Return to Dallas, Looking Forward to Game vs. Stars

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

A couple of familiar faces will be in the opposition’s lineup when the Dallas Stars take on the Boston Bruins tonight at American Airlines Center.

Former Stars Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith will play in Dallas for the first time since the blockbuster trade back in July that brought Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to Dallas.

“It was kind of a weird feeling [to walk into the building], but it is a nice feeling to be back here,” Eriksson said after this morning’s skate at the AAC. “It will be fun tonight.”

Eriksson played seven seasons with the Stars, registering 357 points (150 goals, 207 assists) in 501 games. He’s had a rough go of it this season with the Bruins, twice being sidelined by concussions. He has 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in 26 games.

“It’s been kind of a hard season so far with the concussions,” Eriksson said. “I want to get back to how I can play and how I should be playing. I am just going to try to do the best I can and help the team as much as I can.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien said the Bruins have seen glimpses of what Eriksson can bring, but that the injuries have slowed him.

“He’s a good player and when he’s been at the top of his game, you can see the smarts and you can see why he’s a good two-way player,” Julien said. “But unfortunately, those injuries he suffered were pretty serious injuries so there’s no doubt it’s set him back and we haven’t seen the best out of Loui yet. There’s still half a season left and hopefully he stays healthy and we see the best of him in that second half, if that’s the case, then that’ll be great. The other guy, Smith, has been outstanding for us, so we’ve been pretty happy with both players, just disappointed the fact that Loui has suffered so many injuries. It’s been tough on him and it’s obviously taken away a lot from our hockey club.”

The 22-year-old Smith is having a superb season with Boston, leading the Bruins in goal scoring with 15 in 46 games.

“I think confidence is a big factor,” Smith said. “They’ve given me a bigger role and more opportunity in Boston. It’s one thing that every player wants, to get that extra opportunity, and confidence comes with it.”

Smith played 40 games over two seasons with Dallas, registering three goals and six assists.

“It’s a little different [coming back]. I think the weirdest part was flying into Dallas. I haven’t been here since last year. That was a little weird,” said Smith. “Showing up to the rink and going to a different dressing room, I’m kind of a little lost over on this side. But it should be fun. I am excited for the experience to come back here and play Dallas.”

Stars lineup notes

There are no expected lineup changes for the Stars for tonight’s game. Forward Ray Whitney, who missed Wednesday’s practice, skated Thursday morning. Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice, so he is expected to get the start in goal tonight.

Stars assistant coach James Patrick to miss game

Stars assistant coach James Patrick will miss tonight’s game due to the death of his father, Steve. Patrick is in Winnipeg, where the funeral for his father will be held Friday. He is expected to be back for Saturday’s game in Minnesota.

Quotable: Lindy Ruff on the importance of the next couple weeks

“We spent some time talking about our schedule, where we are at and the opportunity we have the next couple weeks, and how well we need to play. The opportunity is right in front of us and we can really dictate our own destiny. That’s going to take a big commitment, that’s going to take a lot of hard work. We’re going to need have guys go above and beyond here.”

Thursday’s game

Who: Boston Bruins at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinErik Cole
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Shawn HorcoffRich PeverleyValeri Nichushkin
Ray WhitneyVernon FiddlerAlex Chiasson

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Brenden DillonJordie Benn
Kevin ConnautonSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen
Dan Ellis

Bruins projected lineup

Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith
Carl Soderberg – Ryan Spooner – Loui Eriksson
Shawn Thornton – Gregory Campbell – Daniel Paille

Zdeno Chara – Johnny Boychuk
Adam McQuaid – Torey Krug
Matt Bartkowski – Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask
Chad Johnson

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 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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