Forward Ales Hemsky is expected to return to the lineup tonight for the Dallas Stars as they take on the Detroit Red Wings at American Airlines Center.
Hemsky has missed three games since suffering a lower-body injury in the first period of the Feb. 13 game against Florida.
“I definitely feel better,” Hemsky said. “It is nice to skate again and get a chance to get in the lineup, so it’s a great feeling. It’s been a tough one week.”
The Stars are hoping Hemsky can provide an offensive boost to a lineup missing top scorer Tyler Seguin. After a slow start to the season, Hemsky had been turning things around before going out with the injury. He had 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in his previous 21 games.
“I think [he is] a good veteran guy that was going well for us,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said about Hemsky. “He was a big piece of our second power play, so I’m looking at Ales playing the way he did when he left the game for us.”
“Lately, it was way better than in the start. It was a tough start,” Hemsky said. “I was able to build some chemistry with a couple guys, played with them for a little while and it helps for sure. I was feeling pretty good about my game, so hopefully I can come back and keep going.”
With Hemsky back in, Ruff did some line juggling at the morning skate. The top line of Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza and Erik Cole remained intact, but the other three had new looks. Hemsky skated on a line with Vernon Fiddler and Curtis McKenzie. Brett Ritchie, who had been on the Fiddler line, skated on the second line with Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel. Ryan Garbutt moved from the Eakin line to the fourth line with Shawn Horcoff and Colton Sceviour.
There appear to be no changes on defense and Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so it appears he will be in goal tonight vs. Detroit.
Forward Brendan Ranford and defenseman David Schlemko skated late, so they appear to be tonight’s healthy scratches.
The Stars enter tonight’s game six points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 24 games remaining on their schedule.
“Everybody can feel [the intensity ramping up],” Hemsky said. “Every game is important; every point is important if you want to make the playoffs. We have to make a push.”
Red Wings watch
Jimmy Howard was the first goaltender off the ice for the Red Wings this morning, so he is the expected starter in goal tonight. Howard is 17-8-8 this season with a 2.10 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. Defenseman Kyle Quincey (lower body) did not skate this morning, so Jakub Kindl will be in on defense. Kindl, who hasn’t played since Dec. 27, was recalled from a conditioning assignment in the AHL on Friday.
Who: Detroit Red Wings 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 – Jason Spezza – Erik Cole
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie - Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Ryan Garbutt – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jyrki Jokipakka – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Scratched: Brendan Ranford, David Schlemko
Injured: Tyler Seguin (knee), Patrick Eaves (concussion), Travis Moen (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)
Red Wings projected lineup
Justin Abdelkader – Henrik Zetterberg – Teemu Pulkkinen
Tomas Tatar – Pavel Datsyuk – Darren Helm
Gustav Nyquist – Riley Sheahan – Stephen Weiss
Drew Miller – Joakim Andersson – Luke Glendening
Jonathan Ericsson – Niklas Kronwall
Jakub Kindl - Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith – Alexey Marchenko
Scratched: Daniel Cleary, Tomas Jurco
Injured: Johan Franzen (concussion symptoms), Kyle Quincey (lower body)
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.