The Dallas Stars open their preseason schedule tonight when they take on the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center.
The first exhibition game comes after three days of work in Cedar Park for the Stars, who practiced on the first two days and scrimmaged on the third. Now, it is time for some game action.
"We want to play the game the right way," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We've got some young guys in the lineup we want to give a good opportunity to. I think that is probably the first thing we are looking at, to see how they look against the competition. We've got our system in place and some areas we want to improve. We want to start the preseason by making sure we are playing well away from the puck and after that is doing the right things offensively."
Kari Lehtonen and Maxime Lagace are expected to split time in goal tonight for the Stars, Ruff said. The group of forwards and defensemen will include a mix of veterans and young players.
Ruff said he's not at the point where he's looking at possible forward lines to start the season. That's tough to do with the team's current rash of injuries. Centers Tyler Seguin (heel) and Cody Eakin (knee) are both out. Center Radek Faksa (concussion-like symptoms) and right wing Ales Hemsky (groin) just returned from the World Cup of Hockey, where they were injured.
Plus, the Stars won't play captain Jamie Benn in early preseason games as he recovers from offseason surgery. Benn is practicing, but the Stars are being cautious with him as far as scrimmages and exhibition games.
The Stars are also without centers Devin Shore (ankle), Jason Dickinson (hip) and Travis Morin (illness).
"It's almost impossible for me to put guys together right now," Ruff said. "There's an opportunity to look at some younger players, to put guys together at this stage and keep them together, you can't. I think it is almost impossible. It's a great opportunity to take a look at some of our veteran players with some younger guys and maybe putting together a couple veteran lines as we get going here."
Tonight's preseason opener against the Blues comes against the team that knocked the Stars out of last season's playoffs.
"I think it is important to get out and get back at it," Ruff said. "Obviously, it left a bad taste in our mouth. It's an opportunity to get back on our ice against the team that eliminated us and play a good game."
*C Radek Faksa (concussion-like symptoms) skated at this afternoon's practice in a red no-contact jersey. Faksa was injured at the World Cup of Hockey.
* Stars coach Lindy Ruff said RW Ales Hemsky, who suffered a groin injury at the World Cup, could start skating later this week.
*D Esa Lindell, who played for Finland at the World Cup, has returned and practiced with the Stars this afternoon.
Who: St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
Stars Projected Lineup
Forwards: Patrick Sharp, Mattias Janmark, Patrick Eaves, Jiri Hudler, Brett Ritchie, Denis Gurianov, Justin Dowling, Brendan Ranford, Remi Elie, Gemel Smith, Cole Ully, Jason Spezza
Defensemen: John Klingberg, Jamie Oleksiak, Julius Honka, Patrik Nemeth, Stephen Johns, Mattias Backman
Goaltenders: Kari Lehtonen, Maxime Lagace