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Morning Skate: Lehtonen in goal tonight vs. Blues

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Kari Lehtonen will be in goal tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the St. Louis Blues in a preseason game at Scottrade Center.

“We are using all these preseason games to evaluate. I want Kari to play well. I want the team to play well in front of him,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I thought last year, through training camp and preseason it was a little bit of a rough start (for Lehtonen). I would like to see him lock in right away and come up with a solid performance for us.”

Lehtonen, who will be backed up by Maxime Lagace Thursday night, is expected to play the entire game. Ruff said he would like Lehtonen and Antti Niemi – the team’s top goaltenders – to play entire games during the preseason.

“I’d rather see a guy play a whole game then a guy go in halfway through, and they say, ‘I sat there for 30 minutes or an hour-and-a-half.’ I think that is tougher on a goalie to evaluate than up and running for a whole game,” Ruff said.

Once again, the Dallas lineup tonight will feature a lot of youth.

“With the lineup we’ve got, we are taking a look at a lot of young guys,” Ruff said. “I am just looking at how some of these young guys are going to handle some key situations. We are going to work a little harder on power play and penalty killing. We are going to give a lot of guys different opportunities in the game.”

Ruff will also look at one of his possible forward combinations tonight. He has Jason Spezza centering a line with Valeri Nichushkin on the left wing.

“I am basing it on a little bit of chemistry last year,” Ruff said. “You are hoping that chemistry is there and that they can produce offensively and be a good two-way line for us. I love their size. I love that both those guys can hang onto the puck. The fit on the right side, whether it is [Colton] Sceviour, [Ales] Hemsky, [Patrick] Eaves, maybe even [Patrick] Sharp is yet to be determined. I am looking for a line that can produce offensively and be a solid line defensively.”

Sceviour will play right wing on that line tonight in St. Louis.

Moen practices

Forward Travis Moen practiced with the non-game group in Frisco Thursday afternoon. It was Moen’s first practice of training camp. He missed the first five days of practices due to a knee issue.

Thursday’s game

Who: Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues

Where: Scottrade Center

When: 7:00 pm.

TV: None

Radio: None

Online: None

Stars projected lineup

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaColton Sceviour

Mattias JanmarkTravis MorinPatrick Eaves

Curtis McKenzieVernon FiddlerBranden Troock

Remi Elie – Cory Kane – Matej Stransky

Jordie Benn
Ludwig Bystrom

Patrick Nemeth – Mattias Backman

Jamie OleksiakStephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen

Maxime Lagace

Blues projected roster

Forwards: Pat Cannone, Jordan Caron, Dmitrij Jaskin, Magnus Paajarvi, Ty Rattie, Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, Yannick Veilleux, Jeremy Welsh, Eriah Hayes

Defensemen: Andre Benoit, Joel Edmundson, Petteri Lindbohm, Colton Parayko, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalies: Brian Elliott, Jordan Binnington

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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