The Boston Bruins are in town and that means Tyler Seguin was the center of attention after this morning’s skate at American Airlines Center. This is the third time the Stars and Bruins have met since the July 4, 2013 trade that sent Seguin from Boston to Dallas.
“It’s a little different now, but it was nice to see everyone again last night,” Seguin said. “It was more circled last year than this year. I knew a couple weeks ago that it was coming up, and this is a big game for the team.”
And the focus is on the game for the Stars, who are trying to head into the All-Star break on an up note. They have won two straight, three of four and are 11-4-2 over their past 17 games. They come into tonight just four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It’s down to crunch time,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We need to keep pushing to try to get in there and it starts with the game tonight.”
The Bruins will provide a tough challenge. They have played well lately, picking up points in nine of their past ten games (6-1-3).
“We’re going to have to get on the score sheet, and if we can get a lead, I think it’ll open them up a little bit,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “If we end up giving them the lead and playing a real tight game, that plays into their hands. They’ve been pretty good at it. Their goals against the last five, six games has been pretty impressive, and they’ve done it against good teams. For us, it’s making sure we don’t pass up some of those key opportunities and fight for the second opportunities.”
The Stars are expected to roll out the same lineup used in Sunday’s 6-3 win at Chicago. Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so it appears he will be in goal tonight. Forward Patrick Eaves (ankle) took part in line rushes this morning but skated late, so it appears he will sit out tonight. David Schlemko skated late as well, so he is the expected scratch on defense.
The Stars assigned forward Curtis McKenzie to the Texas Stars of the AHL this morning.
Fiddler to play 700th NHL game
Stars forward Vernon Fiddler will hit a career milestone tonight when he hits the ice against the Boston Bruins at American Airlines Center. It will be his 700th NHL game. Stars coach Lindy Ruff talked about the veteran forward after this morning’s skate.
“You’re looking at a guy that’s found a niche in this league from playing defensive hockey, a penalty killer,” Ruff said. “When given a role, sometimes the offensive situations he’s succeeded, but he finds a way to be an important player. He’s got great character in the room, and I think even bigger than that, he’s a good player on the ice for us. Sacrifices the body a lot of times, and he’s been able to score some big goals for us. He’s the type of guy that would fit well on any team.”
Tuukka Rask will get the start in goal for the Bruins, who had a five-game winning streak snapped with a loss to Columbus on Saturday.
“Our battle wasn’t the best. We were not playing the best way in that game,” said Bruins forward Loui Eriksson. “Now we have Dallas out there against us, so we have to get back to just working hard and play a good team game.”
Boston will be without forward Brad Marchand, who will serve the second game of a two-game suspension for slew-footing New York Rangers forward Derick Brassard.
Quotable: Bruins coach Claude Julien on Tyler Seguin’s play in Dallas
“I haven’t had a chance to watch him closely. I’ve seen him enough to, first of all, I think he seems to be comfortable at center but he’s got a pretty good winger that I had the experience to work with last year in the Olympics in Jamie (Benn). So that’s certainly one thing. He’s getting older, he’s getting more experience, so his play is certainly getting better all the time. So I think that’s the way I see him, Tyler, he’s a dangerous player out there. You’ve got to keep an eye on him all the time. He can make things happen and he can certainly score goals.”
Quotable: Julien on the playoff of former Star Loui Eriksson in Boston
“It’s unfortunate that he’s stuck in that comparison (with Seguin) because he’s not going to score the goals that Tyler is, but he’s certainly going to bring some other elements to our hockey club that we needed. He’s been scoring goals. He’s a good two-way player. We use him on the power play and the penalty kill. He’s a real smart, smart player, and he does a great job when he’s in front of the net. Not a lot of players in this league like standing in front and he doesn’t mind. When it’s his turn to get there, he does a good job that way. I really felt that the concussions really slowed him down last year and it took him a while to get going. He had a bit of a slow start again this year, first probably dozen games, but he’s really picked up his game. His line with (Carl) Soderberg and (Chris) Kelly have really helped us get through this hump of injuries because that line’s produced more than we had expected and certainly helped us get over the loss of (David) Krejci there for almost two months.”
Who: Boston Bruins 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 – Colton Sceviour
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Travis Moen
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: David Schlemko
Injured: Patrick Eaves (ankle), Trevor Daley (undisclosed), Brett Ritchie (undisclosed), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)
Bruins projected lineup
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Daniel Paille – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly – Carl Soderberg – Loui Eriksson
Jordan Caron – Gregory Campbell – Craig Cunningham
Zdeno Chara – Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Seidenberg – Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug – Kevan Miller
Scratched: Matt Bartkowski
Injured: Marc Savard (post-concussion syndrome)
Suspended: Brad Marchand
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.