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Morning Skate: Russell joins Stars, could play tonight vs. Nashville

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

New Dallas Stars defenseman Kris Russell joined the team in Nashville this morning and took part in an optional skate.

“It's been a whirlwind,” Russell said. “I've never been in this situation to be the guy that was most likely going to get moved at the deadline, but I'm excited to be here now. It seems like a great group of guys, so I'm excited to get playing.”

It’s still unclear whether Russell will play tonight, but there is a chance. As of early this afternoon, Russell was still waiting for his work visa to get processed.

“It’s 50-50, but there’s a chance he plays,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.

This would be Russel’s first game in almost three weeks. He’s been out since Feb. 12 with a lower-body injury but said yesterday he is ready to go. Today, he is going through his game day routine in anticipation of playing.

“I am just going to prepare like I am playing. If I hear different then I will deal with it,” Russell said. “Just going like I'm going to play tonight, so I don't change too much."

If Russell does play tonight, Ruff said he could rely heavily on five defensemen and use various defense pairs.

“These guys are all used to big minutes, so I think we’d lean pretty heavy on five and get those guys their minutes so they would play with different people,” Ruff said.

The Stars acquired Russell Monday just prior to the NHL’s trade deadline, sending defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, forward prospect Brett Pollock and a conditional second-round pick to Calgary for the 28-year-old defenseman. His new teammates believe Russell will be a good addition to the Stars.

“We obviously like our team, and we think that with what we have in our room we can win. Anytime you add a piece, it does energize your team a bit,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “Kris Russell, he’s a competitive guy. He is a hardnosed guy that will do anything for his team to win. He is top five in blocked shots. He does the little things that sometimes everybody in the media doesn’t notice, but the guys notice in the dressing room. He is going to be a great addition for our team.”

“I’ve always liked him as a player,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “He’s a super competitive guy. He just seems like a guy who will do anything to help his team win. It’s a great acquisition for us, I’m sure. The way he plays is going to fit right in.”

Stars forward Colton Sceviour has known Russell for about ten years, training and skating with him in the offseason.

“I think he’ll be a good addition to our team,” Sceviour said. “I know him pretty well, he’s a good guy, and I think he’s going to fit in here well.”

The Stars held an optional skate this morning since they played last night, so there were no line rushes or defense pairs. Kari Lehtonen is the likely starter in goal.

Pekka Rinne is the projected starter in goal for the Predators. Defenseman Shea Weber, who has been out with a lower-body injury, skated this morning but his status for tonight’s game is unclear. The Predators come into tonight’s game with four straight wins and points in nine straight games (6-0-3).

Who: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators

Where: Bridgestone Arena

When: 7:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselCody EakinAles Hemsky

Radek FaksaVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Patrik NemethJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Patrick Eaves (illness)

Scratched: Kris Russell, Jamie Oleksiak, Travis Moen

Calle Jarnkrok – Ryan Johansen – James Neal

Filip Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – Craig Smith

Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Viktor Arvidsson

Miikka Salomaki – Paul Gaustad – Austin Watson

Roman Josi – Shea Weber

Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis

Anthony Bitetto – Barret Jackman

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Injured: Shea Weber (lower body), Gabriel Bourque (upper body),
Eric Nystrom (broken foot)

Scratched: Petter Granberg

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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