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Practice update: 'We can’t wait to get it going'

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars went through a brisk practice Wednesday morning in Frisco, their final one before Thursday night’s regular-season opener against Pittsburgh at American Airlines Center. Coach Lindy Ruff liked what he saw.

“I think the group has a tremendous attitude,” Ruff said. “The practices the last two days were right up to speed, and I thought today was a real good day. We can’t wait to get it going.”

“Our practices have been really good. There’s a lot of tempo out there,” said defenseman Alex Goligoski. “Guys are working on stuff after practice; it’s good to see. Guys aren’t just leaving the ice and getting home. The focus in here is definitely high.”

On the health front, Ruff said everybody appears ready to go. Jamie Benn, Ales Hemsky and Jason Demers, who all missed Monday’s practice, went through a full practice for a second consecutive day on Wednesday.

“Everybody seems good,” Ruff said. “There’s still a period of time where guys have to work through. That isn’t an automatic but guys are working through it.”

Ruff rolled out the same forward lines and defense pairs he used in Tuesday’s practice. That included Cody Eakin skating on a line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza centering Valeri Nichushkin and Patrick Sharp. Hemsky was the right wing on a line with center Mattias Janmark and left wing Antoine Roussel. Ruff talked about his thinking on the lines after practice.

“This is aimed at a lot of things,” he said. “I’ve got some guys that aren’t quite up to speed yet. I think they’ll be close come tomorrow night. It’s an option that we’d like to look at.”

Eakin has had success matching up against Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby in the past, and Ruff said that is a factor behind the line combinations as well.

“That plays into it,” Ruff said. “That’s a matchup, for me, that has been pretty effective.”

As for whether Antti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen will start in goal, Ruff wasn’t tipping his hand.

“It’s one of the two guys, that’s for sure,” Ruff said, drawing laughs from the media.

He went on to say that he doesn’t mind having to choose between two goaltenders who are established No. 1 guys in the NHL.

“I think it is good that we have that option,” he said. “I want both goalies playing well. I’ve already met with both of them, and I told them I just hope they both play really well.”

Wednesday’s practice lineup

Jamie BennCody EakinTyler Seguin

Valeri NichushkinJason SpezzaPatrick Sharp

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky/Colton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn

Patrik NemethJamie Oleksiak

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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