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Goligoski Misses Practice; Nichushkin, Gonchar Making Progress

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski did not practice Wednesday. He was cut by a skate in Tuesday’s 6-3 win over Vancouver and has another injury issue as well, according to Stars coach Lindy Ruff.

“He got some treatment today. Obviously, he suffered the cut from the skate last night,” Ruff said. “But he’s got another nagging little injury that we hope isn’t going to keep him out.”

There was no word on exactly what the nagging injury was. As for the cut, Goligoski was clipped by the skate of Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen in the third period of last night’s game. Ruff said the cut was under Goligoski’s ear.

“It’s one where you just shake your head and say that was close to a bad area,” Ruff said.

Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin (groin/hip) and defenseman Sergei Gonchar (ankle) continue to make progress, but neither of them will be ready for the next two games.

“Better. Better. The Russian embassy is looking good,” Ruff said. “Both were smiling today, on the bike and thumbs up for a good day. Sergei is doing good. Val had a better day yesterday and a good day today. They won’t be ready for these next two games, but we got some good news when it comes to getting on the ice and skating and getting some work done.”

Line juggling

Ruff did some line juggling in Wednesday’s practice. He split up the top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza. Benn and Seguin were joined on the top line by Colton Sceviour. Spezza centered the second line with Erik Cole and Ales Hemsky. Asked if he might split up the big three of Benn, Spezza and Seguin when the Stars hit the road, Ruff said not necessarily.

“There are a couple looks I want to be able to go to inside of a game,” Ruff said. “We know that we are getting good offense out of Jason, Tyler and Benny together. The offensive side of the game has been good. At the same time, if teams go into a little bit of a lockdown against our top line we’ll be ready to try to split them up and give them a couple different looks.”

Defensive focus

After giving up 83 shots on goal over the last two games, including 46 in Tuesday night’s 6-3 win over Vancouver, the Stars are trying to get their defensive game in order. That was a focus Wednesday in Frisco.

“We know what we have to improve on,” said Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon. “We have a great goaltender in Kari [Lehtonen], who showed that last night and helped us out. We watched the video today and we went over some things in practice that we need to improve. I think as a team our defensive game is going to be a lot better going forward.”

Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he is looking for a better balance between offense and defense.

“There are two things that happened in the game [last night],” Ruff said. “The game got out of hand. The game was 6-1 and we got on the wrong side of the puck too many times. If you are losing the game and you are trying to get on the offensive side and are hoping for that break that can get you back in the game, you may give up some situations. We’re in a 6-1 game and we’re giving up situations where we are chasing people back to our net. Those are situations that I have to clean up.

“We’ve been good offensively. We’ve created enough good opportunities. …. I’d like to find a happy medium somewhere and clean up the defensive side, where we take care of that first before we start leaning on the offensive side. It cost us a point in the Philly game, where we were up two goals and we gave away a point. As a team, that could be a big point at the end of the year.”

Quotable: Ruff on Ales Hemsky

Here’s a quote from Stars coach Lindy Ruff on forward Ales Hemsky, who has just one assist in six games so far this season.

“Hemmer has been battling through a little bit of an injury for a few games. I thought the last couple of games maybe have been his best. He hasn’t found the back of the net, but I really believe it is going to come. If he keeps doing the right things that will come. It’s a new city, new surroundings, new coaches. That takes time. You go around the league and look at players that have switched teams. I can probably give you three or four right away, and you’ll say, ‘Man, that guy hasn’t scored yet.’ It’s not easy.”

Stars practice lineup

Here’s how the Stars lined up in Wednesday’s practice.

Jamie BennTyler SeguinColton Sceviour
Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves/Curtis McKenzie

Jyrki JokipakkaTrevor Daley
Jordie BennBrenden Dillon
Kevin ConnautonJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen
Anders Lindback

Not practicing: D Alex Goligoski (ear/undisclosed), RW Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin), D Sergei Gonchar (ankle)

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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