Forward Valeri Nichushkin will be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars take on the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Nichushkin has no points over his last five games and three points over the last 11 contests. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the 18-year-old rookie needs a break.
“He’s had a little bit of a tough ride,” Ruff said. “He said he has felt real tired. He’s 18, and for him it is a mental grind. We’ll try to freshen him up and get him going again.”
After splitting up Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin in Friday’s practice, Ruff had them skating together again Saturday morning on a line with Rich Peverley. He had Alex Chiasson on a line with Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel. Vernon Fiddler was centering Erik Cole and Ryan Garbutt.
“We have four or five guys that we need to get on the board, and we’re just trying to strike a little bit better balance,” Ruff said. “We’ve lost seven of eight and, for me, I’ve got to get Fidds on the board and Chaser. If we’re going to be an effective team, those guys have got to produce.”
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar and Ray Whitney, who were both questionable coming into tonight’s game, are expected to play. Aaron Rome is set to return to the lineup after missing three games with a lower body injury. Kevin Connauton is expected to be the healthy scratch on defense.
Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice, so he it appears he will in goal tonight.
Quotable: Lindy Ruff on if the two upcoming games against Minnesota are must wins
“We started the season and after six games we got to must win, and we’ve been there ever since. Really, the way the schedule sits, we are just in that situation. I said we had to win three out of four, we lost our first one and we’ve got to win the next three. To push into the pack, we’ve got to do our work now.”
Who: Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
When: 8:00 p.m.
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 GM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Rich Peverley
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Erik Cole – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Dustin Jeffrey – Ray Whitney
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Brenden Dillon – Jordie Benn
Aaron Rome – Sergei Gonchar
Wild projected lineup
Dany Heatley-Charlie Coyle-Jason Zucker
Nino Niederreiter-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville
Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Justin Fontaine
Torrey Mitchell-Erik Haula-Stephane Veilleux
Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella-Nate Prosser
Clayton Stoner-Keith Ballard
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.