Based on this morning’s skate at the American Airlines Center, it appears that forward Valeri Nichushkin and defenseman Sergei Gonchar could be in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff wouldn’t confirm Nichushkin and Gonchar were in, saying that decision would come tonight.
“Well, they’ll be game-time decisions,” Ruff said. “Val feels pretty good, so we’ll address that for tonight.”
Nichushkin has been out since Oct. 11 with a hip/groin issue. He played two games in the AHL over the weekend to start getting up to speed. He skated on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at this morning’s session at the AAC. Jason Spezza, who had been centering Benn and Seguin, had Erik Cole and Ales Hemsky on his wings.
“If Val’s able to go, which we’ll know tonight, we’ll go back to him with Seguin and Benn,” Ruff said. “That was a good line for us last year probably 90 percent of the time.”
Gonchar has been out since the preseason, when he suffered a fractured ankle. He skated with Jamie Oleksiak this morning and admitted it will take some time to get up to speed once he gets in the lineup.
“Definitely. If you think about it, I played only three preseason games and the guys have played 12 games now. I have to catch up,” Gonchar said. “With the injuries you have to do it one way or the other. There is no other solution for it.”
If Gonchar and Nichushkin are in, then Kevin Connauton and Patrick Eaves are expected to be the healthy scratches. Kari Lehtonen is expected to get the start in goal for the Stars.
Jonathan Quick will get the start in goal for the Kings.
Daley to play in 700th game tonight
Stars defenseman Trevor Daley will hit a milestone tonight, playing in his 700th NHL game. All 700 of those games have come with the Stars organization.
“When you have a chance to reminisce it is pretty cool,” Daley said. “Obviously, I feel pretty honored and fortunate to be with this organization for this long. To play that many games is pretty cool, too. I feel very fortunate and try not to take it for granted.”
The Stars drafted Daley in the second round (43rd overall) of the 2002 NHL Draft. He played his first game with the Stars on Oct. 25, 2003 and by the end of this season he’ll rank in the top ten in games played in franchise history.
“That doesn’t happen very much anymore,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “It’s obviously really cool for him and speaks a lot to the kind of player and person he is, so it’s awesome for him.”
Who: Los Angeles Kings at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Jamie Oleksiak – Sergei Gonchar
Scratched: F Patrick Eaves, D Kevin Connauton
Injured: D Patrik Nemeth (arm laceration)
Kings projected lineup
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford – Mike Richards – Trevor Lewis
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez – Robyn Regehr
Brayden McNabb – Matt Greene
Scratched: Andy Andreoff.
Injured: Andrew Bodnarchuk (knee), Jordan Nolan (suspension), Slava Voynov (suspension).
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.