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Morning Skate: Jamie Benn to play tonight vs. Florida

Stars captain to make preseason debut, Tyler Seguin begins skating

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

After sitting out the first four preseason games, Stars captain Jamie Benn will play tonight when the Stars host the Florida Panthers at American Airlines Center.

"I am looking forward to getting back out there and getting into a game that, I guess, means something," Benn said. "It's going to be fun to get back into the feel of it, and hopefully it goes well."

The Stars have been cautious with Benn, who had surgery to repair a core muscle injury on July 14. He's taken part in all practices during training camp, but he didn't take part in the camp scrimmage and has been held out of preseason games until now.

"Everything has gone according to plan," said Benn, who skated on a line with Radek Faksa and Patrick Eaves this morning. "This was the game I was aiming to be a part of, and I am feeling good enough to play."

"I'd say [it went as expected]. We could have pushed a little harder a little sooner," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of the timetable on Benn. "But there is no easing now. The word ease is out. Now we've got to go hard and be ready."

Video: Jamie Benn returns to the lineup

Tonight's game is the fifth of seven preseason tilts for the Stars. Ruff said he is still evaluating players, particularly centers with Cody Eakin (knee) out until early November and Mattias Janmark (knee) out five to six months.

"With a couple of injuries we are taking a hard look at a couple of forwards," Ruff said. "Our fourth line center spot you can utilize different players, so there are several young guys that are going to get a real good look, have and will continue to. Our young centermen from [Justin] Dowling, [Gemel] Smith and [Adam] Cracknell, those guys are getting a real hard look in that slot right now."

Cracknell, Dowling, and Smith are all in the lineup tonight.

The Stars will roll out a defense of Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, Johnny Oduya, Patrik Nemeth, Jordie Benn and Stephen Johns tonight.

Antti Niemi is expected to play the entire game in goal. Maxime Lagace will serve as the backup.

Notes: Seguin skating

*Stars center Tyler Seguin has resumed skating, taking the ice after Tuesday morning's pre-game skate in Frisco. Seguin has been off skates since training camp opened due to a hairline fracture in his heel that he suffered in a pre-tournament game at the World Cup of Hockey. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he expects Seguin to be ready for the regular season opener.

"His level of practice is going to start ramping up today," Ruff said. "I know he was ready a month ago playing in the World Cup, but now it is you've got to restart your engines because he's been off again for a good three, four weeks."

*Defensemen Andrew Bodnarchuk and Dustin Stevenson both cleared waivers Tuesday and were assigned to the Texas Stars (AHL). The Dallas roster now stands at 38 players.

Tonight's Game

Who: Florida Panthers at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: None
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars Projected Lineup

Jamie Benn - Radek Faksa - Patrick Eaves
Cole Ully - Justin Dowling - Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel - Adam Cracknell - Denis Gurianov
Curtis McKenzie - Gemel Smith - Matej Stransky

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Patrik Nemeth
Jordie Benn - Stephen Johns

Antti Niemi
Maxime Lagace

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.

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