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Morning Skate: Seguin out, Lehtonen expected in goal for Game 1 vs. Wild

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Here was the key news from this morning’s skate as the Dallas Stars prepared to open the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Minnesota Wild at American Airlines Center tonight:

*Tyler Seguin (Achilles) won’t play tonight, but should be ready to go for Game 2 Saturday.

*Mattias Janmark (upper body) will play tonight.

*Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars this morning, so it appears he will get the start in goal tonight vs. the Wild.

On Seguin, who has been out since Mar. 17 with a cut to his Achilles tendon, Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the Stars forward could use some more practice time.

“He’s had really, in my eyes, one good practice,” Ruff said. “He had a practice earlier in the week that I thought was OK. The next day he was better and the fact that playoff intensity is even ramped up more than the regular season, I don't want him to step in and not play OK. I want him to step in and really be ready. If this was a Game 7, he’d probably play. You’d take that chance. You’d say OK, let’s take a kick at it, but right now we’re not there. These guys have done a terrific job. We can give them the opportunity of two more days of practice, which gives him three full days and I think that’ll make him an even more hungrier and effective player.”

Janmark will return to the lineup after missing the final three games of the regular season with an upper-body injury. Janmark, who will make his NHL playoff debut tonight, skated on the left wing with center Vernon Fiddler and right wing Colton Sceviour this morning.

“[I feel] good. It’s going to be fun to play,” Janmark said. “It’s exciting. [The playoffs] are a new chapter. This is going to be fun."


       Game One analysis from Owen & Bruce
       Jamie Benn: "Take it game by game"
       Tyler Seguin will be ready for Game Two

Ruff has been unwilling to reveal his starter in goal for game one and even after Lehtonen came off the ice first this morning and Antti Niemi skated late, the Dallas coach still wouldn’t admit that he decided on Lehtonen.

“How do we know he’s starting? All smoke and mirrors now,” Ruff said. “I told Antti stay out as long as you possibly could today just to throw us some smoke.”

This would be Lehtonen’s ninth career playoff game. He has a 2-6 record with a 3.88 goals-against average and .874 save percentage. Lehtonen finished the regular season strong, posting a 6-1-0 record in his final seven starts with a 2.01 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

Jordie Benn, Travis Moen, Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak are expected to be the healthy scratches on defense for the Stars tonight.

Expectations are high as the Stars come into the playoffs. They are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and finished with the second best record in the league. But they aren’t looking past the Wild.

“Expectations are high, but we are just going to take it game by game,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We know these guys are going to work hard. They played us tight all year, and they are going to give us another good one tonight.”

“I think that everybody’s grounded and realizes that we got a lot of work to do and that we don’t want to take anything for granted, we don’t want to take the team that we’re playing for granted,” Ruff said. “We played a Nashville team in the last game of the year when we were desperate for a win that had five regulars out of the lineup. They took us to the 59-minute mark for us to win the game and they had the lead for most of the game. So we realize that we’ve had a great year. We’re excited, but we know that we want to accomplish more.”

Devan Dubnyk gets the start in goal tonight for the Wild. This will be Dubnyk’s 11th NHL playoff game. He is 4-6 with a 2.52 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.

The Wild will be missing key forwards Zach Parise (upper body), Thomas Vanek (upper body) and Erik Haula (lower body) for tonight’s playoff opener against the Stars. Parise and Vanek did not make the trip to Dallas. Haula skated on his own this morning.

“We’ll see how he is after he skated today,” Wild coach John Torchetti said. “He’s going to push it a little bit more now and get a little more strength out of it and see how he feels and then we’ll know tomorrow.”

The Wild come into the series as underdogs, but Torchetti doesn’t think much of that label.

“I don’t like it. That’s just saying that people don’t think we can win,” Torchetti said. “We’re a pretty good hockey team. We’re in the same building that everyone else is in. Sixteen teams made it. We’ve got a chance to prove it to ourselves. That’s all I really care about is how much we want to play for each other.”

Who: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars

Where: American Airlines Center

Time: 8:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest/NBCSN/SN360/TVA SPORTS

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Jamie BennCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselRadek FaksaAles Hemsky

Mattias JanmarkVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaStephen Johns

Kris RussellJason Demers

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Tyler Seguin (Achilles), Brett Ritchie (lower body)

Scratched: Jordie Benn, Travis Moen, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak

Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Charlie Coyle

Nino Niederreiter – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville

Chris Porter – Zac Dalpe – David Jones

Ryan Carter – Jarret Stoll – Justin Fontaine

Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella – Jonas Brodin

Nate Prosser – Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Erik Haula (lower body), Zach Parise (upper body), Thomas Vanek (upper body)

Scratched: Christian Folin, Jordan Schroeder

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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