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Morning Skate: Esa Lindell to make NHL debut tonight vs. Kings

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Defenseman Esa Lindell will make his NHL debut tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.

The Stars recalled Lindell Monday from Texas of the AHL with Jordie Benn suffering a lower-body injury over the weekend. The 21-year-old Lindell, a third-round pick in 2012, has been excellent with Texas this season, registering 25 points (7 goals, 18 assists) and a plus-9 rating in 42 games.

“I’m excited [to get a look at him],” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I thought in the preseason games he showed very well, and he has got some high regards from [Texas GM Scott White] and the coaches down in Texas. So, I am excited to see him play."

Lindell, one of Dallas’ top prospects, is expected to play the left side on the third defensive pair with Patrik Nemeth.

“I think he is a guy that has a little bit of an edge, he plays the game hard,” Ruff said of Lindell. “He’s got some good puck movement, he has an offensive side to him, and he’s got some physicality.”

At forward, Ruff will roll out a top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza. Ruff put that trio together in the third period of Saturday’s game in San Jose, and the line clicked.

“I would like it to be a line that I could keep together for a long period of time,” Ruff said. “Jason’s excited to play with those two guys. It’s not like it is a demotion. And I got the results I needed from them. There’s no secret that our best players are going to have to be our best players offensively and our best players defensively to get out of this [slump].”

Kari Lehtonen is expected to start in goal tonight for the Stars, who have just one win in their past seven games (1-4-2) and no wins in their past seven road games (0-4-3).

Jyrki Jokipakka and Colton Sceviour are expected to be healthy scratches tonight. Jamie Oleksiak remains on a conditioning assignment with the Texas Stars.

Jonathan Quick is expected to get the start in goal for the Kings. Quick has allowed two goals or fewer in eight of his past nine starts. The Kings come into tonight’s game with an 8-2-1 record over their past 11 games. They are in first place in the Pacific Division with a ten-point lead over second-place San Jose.

Who: Dallas Stars at Los Angeles Kings

Where: Staples Center

When: 9:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Jamie BennTyler SeguinJason Spezza

Valeri NichushkinCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Antoine RousselMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Esa LindellPatrik Nemeth

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Jordie Benn (lower body)

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Colton Sceviour

Conditioning: Jamie Oleksiak

Milan Lucic – Anze Kopitar – Tyler Toffoli

Tanner Pearson – Vincent Lecavalier – Jeff Carter

Dwight King – Trevor Lewis – Dustin Brown

Andy Andreoff – Nick Shore – Marian Gaborik

Brayden McNabb – Drew Doughty

Alec Martinez – Luke Schenn

Jake Muzzin – Jamie McBain

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Matt Greene (shoulder), Kyle Clifford (lower body)

Scratched: Jordan Nolan, Christian Ehrhoff

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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