Struggling Stars forward Ales Hemsky could sit out tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings as a healthy scratch.
Hemsky did not skate on a line and stayed on the ice longer than usual this morning, signs that he won’t be in the lineup. He is not expected to play if Cody Eakin returns from an upper body injury.
“[Hemsky] is going to be a game-time decision. We don’t know if Eakin is going to be ready. I’ve asked him to put in a little extra work,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.
Hemsky, one of the Stars’ key offseason acquisitions, has just one assist in 15 games, and that came on the power play in the season opener vs. Chicago.
“It just doesn’t go in and you have to stick with it,” Hemsky said. “You just have to focus on your effort, work hard. If you aren’t scoring you just have to do different things. You want to be a positive factor, helping scoring-wise.”
“I think he has a lot of frustration in his game, which is understandable,”Ruff said. “I spent some time with him yesterday. I’ve looked at all his chances from this year. He’s had some great opportunities. He hasn’t finished. Some of that has got the best of him right now.”
Eakin has missed the last three games with that upper body injury. He practiced yesterday and took part in this morning’s skate in Los Angeles. If he returns, Ruff is expected to reassemble a top line of Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin. If Eakin can’t play, then Ruff said he would go with the same lines as last game.
Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice, so he is expected to be in net tonight. Kevin Connauton is the expected scratch on defense. Travis Moen, acquired from Montreal on Tuesday, is still working his way through immigration and is expected to join the team in Dallas on Friday.
The Stars will be facing a Kings team that played last night in Anaheim and lost, 6-5, in a shootout. The Ducks came out strong last night and outshot the Kings 49-26. Ruff would like to see a strong start from the Stars.
“Anaheim came with incredible pressure and we’d like to do the same,” Ruff said. “We are a good team when we are on our toes and we are forechecking. It took us 20 minutes to get that game going in Phoenix (Tuesday). I don’t want to take 20 minutes to get it going. We need to get it going in the first five minutes.”
Backup goaltender Martin Jones is the expected starter in net for the Kings tonight. Jones is 1-1-0 with a 1.73 goals against average and .929 save percentage.
Quotable: Kings coach Darryl Sutter on the Stars
“Well, I think that they do have the big line. That’s not a secret. I think Benn and Seguin are stars, so if you look at every night, you have to be able to saw that line off. They’re emotional guys, too. Benn, he gets in a fight the first shift last game. He’s the emotional guy, too. He’s a tough guy to handle.
“You just have to be consistent against them. You can’t give them open space, and you can’t let them two-on-one you, and you can’t turn the puck over. It’s a demanding checking game to play against them. You can’t let them on the power play. They’re just dangerous guys. You see times where you say they’re not doing much, and then Seguin will come up with a couple goals like he did the other night, or Benn will run somebody over. You know what? We need that a little bit more out of our group in terms of those top guys doing that.” (lakingsinsider.com)
Who: Dallas Stars at Los Angeles Kings
Where: Staples Center
When: 9:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus (Channel Guide)
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzie – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Jamie Oleksiak – John Klingberg
Scratched: Ales Hemsky, Kevin Connauton, Travis Moen
Injured: RW Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin), Patrik Nemeth (arm)
Kings projected lineup
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Mike Richards – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez – Matt Greene
Brayden McNabb - Jamie McBain
Scratched: F Andy Andreoff
Injured: D Robyn Regehr (leg), D Andrew Bodnarchuk (knee)
Suspended: D Slava Voynov
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.