Rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin will be a healthy scratch for a second straight game when the Dallas Stars take on the Nashville Predators tonight at Bridgestone Arena.
“Because of where his energy level has been I am not going to play him back-to-back games,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He’ll go in tomorrow (vs. Minnesota in Dallas).”
The 18-year-old Nichushkin hasn’t registered a point in his last five games, and told Ruff that he was starting to feel fatigued.
“He was playing really well and maybe the schedule caught up with him,” Ruff said. “I just know that in talking to him he talked about how tired he was. Not many players will admit to no legs and fatigue. I think some of it is mental fatigue because he pushed hard. I think some of it is the Olympic part, where he was pushing hard. Some of it is the NHL schedule, which is real demanding. It’s a physical grind, not just a skating grind. So, he’s got a little bit of everything. This is just part of his progression.”
Ruff appears set to go with the lines he used at the end of Saturday’s game in Minnesota, which means splitting up Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at times.
“We could see a little bit of either,” Ruff said. “It makes it hard on the other team’s coach if he wants to play a certain defense pair of a certain line.”
On defense, Kevin Connauton will be back in after sitting out the last game as a healthy scratch. Jordie Benn will be the scratch tonight against Nashville.
“Connauton has played pretty well,” Ruff said. “I think in some situations Jordie has struggled.”
Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice, so he is the expected starter in goal for the Stars. Carter Hutton is expected to get the start in goal for Nashville.
Who: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators
Where: Bridgestone Arena
When: 7:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Antoine Roussel – Tyler Seguin – Rich Peverley
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Erik Cole – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Dustin Jeffrey – Shawn Horcoff – Ray Whitney
Alex Goligoski – Brenden Dillon
Trevor Daley – Kevin Connauton
Aaron Rome – Sergei Gonchar
Predators projected lineup
Patric Hornqvist - Mike Fisher - Colin Wilson
Craig Smith - David Legwand - Nick Spaling
Gabriel Bourque - Matt Cullen - Eric Nystrom
Viktor Stalberg - Paul Gaustad - Rich Clune
Shea Weber - Roman Josi
Seth Jones - Mattias Ekholm
Ryan Ellis - Victor Bartley/Kevin Klein
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.