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Hanzal, Ritchie remain out of lineup as Stars open homestand

Ken Hitchcock says both will be sidelined Saturday and Monday as they work back from injuries

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars won't get any relief on the injury front as they return from a five-game road trip and open a three-game homestand Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres at American Airlines Center. Center Martin Hanzal and right wing Brett Ritchie remain out of the lineup.

Both will not only miss Saturday's game against the Sabres, but neither will play Monday against the Winnipeg Jets, coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Ritchie, who was sent home to Dallas during the road trip due to an upper-body injury and missed Thursday's game in Winnipeg, is still being evaluated.

"Ritchie is getting further medical tests today," Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock said that GM Jim Nill probably will be the person to provide an update once the tests on Ritchie are completed.

"We don't anticipate this being long-term at all, but we need to know what we are dealing with here," Hitchcock added.

Hanzal, who has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, skated on his own for an hour today. He's expected to skate again Saturday and then practice Sunday. Hitchcock indicated the final game of the homestand -- next Friday against the New York Islanders -- could be a possibility for Hanzal's return to the lineup.

"He'll skate again early tomorrow and then join us on Sunday. Then we'll see how he does from there," Hitchcock said. "He's not a player right now until he goes through a number of practices, so we will see with him probably later in the week. We want to get ahold of what's going on here so that we've got a one hundred percent player."

With Hanzal and Ritchie still out, Hitchcock said he'll go with the same lineup as last game for Saturday's game against Buffalo except in goal where Kari Lehtonen will get the start. It will be the third start of the season for Lehtonen who stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 2-1 win over Calgary in his last appearance.

The Stars did not practice Friday. Instead, they held a long video session where the Stars discussed their slow start in Thursday's 5-2 loss in Winnipeg. The Stars got off to a slow start in the game and fell behind 3-0 when the Jets scored three times in a 4:18 span of the first period.

"Winning in the National Hockey League goes to the team that initiates. When you react, or you play on your heels not many good things happen," Hitchcock said. "There are all kinds of issues that go into why you are on your heels, why are you playing on your heels, and why does it take a period for you to get on your toes. That's what we talked about. What's holding us back from playing on our toes and why when we are on the road are we on our heels so much to start with and all kinds of the inner workings of a hockey club."

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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