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Hitchcock likes what he sees in latest Stars lineup

The Dallas head coach is likely to roll with the same group at Nashville on Thursday

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Coaches tend to not mess with success, and it looks like that will be Stars coach Ken Hitchcock's philosophy heading into Thursday's game in Nashville. Hitchcock indicated he would roll with the same lineup that got the Stars their first win of the season Tuesday night.

We'll know the lineup for sure on Thursday, but on Wednesday, Hitchcock had high praise for the group that provided the 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at American Airlines Center.

"I liked every part of it," Hitchcock said. "I liked our lines. I liked the defense pairs. I liked the goalie. I liked every part of it. We made mistakes that are teachable, coachable moments for us but that's three games in a row that we've had high energy. I liked a lot of things we did yesterday, so we just have to keep pushing forward."

While Hitchcock liked the teams' play in the first three games of the season, he saw a step forward with Tuesday's lineup.

"I looked at the whole way our group was built, and we had to play to that identity. And yesterday was the first time that I saw some things that I liked that had us playing to that identity on a consistent basis," Hitchcock said. "We've shown really good flashes of it. We are not a team that is built for a track meet. We're built a certain way and we were very effective in playing it yesterday against a really good team."

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Hitchcock said he would continue to go with Ben Bishop in goal. Bishop has stopped 42 of 44 shots in his first two games with the Stars. He stopped all 19 shots in season opener against Vegas before leaving the game early in the third period after taking a shot off the mask. He turned away 23 of 25 shots in Tuesday's win over Detroit.

Bishop will play Thursday and then is expected to play Saturday when the Stars host the Colorado Avalanche. After that, Hitchcock said, the Stars will look at the goaltending plan.

"With Ben missing time here, we'll take it through Saturday," Hitchcock said. "Hopefully, he plays well in Nashville, and then we take it through to Saturday and then we'll decide from there."

Bishop and the Stars will face a stiff test Thursday in Nashville. The Predators are 1-2-0, but they are coming off their first win of the season, a wild 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night in Nashville.

"They are a high-energy group, they play with a lot of speed, a lot of tempo. They really stretch you out. If you mishandle the puck they make you pay big time," Hitchcock said. "They look like the same old, same old. They've got a lot of experience up front and a lot of guys who put pressure on you. We've just got to be ready for it."

Hamhuis day to day

The Stars held an optional practice in Frisco Wednesday with less than half the roster skating. Among the players taking part was defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who did not play Tuesday due to a groin injury.

Hamhuis is listed as day to day and is not expected to play Thursday in Nashville. Hitchcock said the Stars want to give Hamhuis a few more days to get healthy.

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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