The Dallas Stars are expected to get a couple of their injured forwards back for tonight's game against the New York Islanders at American Airlines Center. Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said that Radek Faksa and Brett Ritchie will both play tonight.
Faksa suffered a lower-body injury in Saturday's game against Buffalo and did not play Monday against Winnipeg. Ritchie has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. The Stars called up Curtis McKenzie this morning just in case they needed some help at forward tonight, but Hitchcock said both Faksa and Ritchie were ready to go after this morning's skate.
Both defenseman Marc Methot (lower body) and forward Tyler Pitlick (upper body) are not expected to play tonight.
Tonight's game wraps up a three-game homestand for the Stars who are 5-2-0 at American Airlines Center and 8-7-0 overall.
The Stars are expected to have a different look with their forward lines. Coach Ken Hitchcock has split up his top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov which has been carrying the team offensively. Benn has been moved to center and will have Gemel Smith and Radulov on his wings. Seguin will center Mattias Janmark and Devin Shore.
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"We've got to get more participants. We're spreading the wealth," Hitchcock said. "We were becoming a one-line team, and that won't cut it in the National Hockey League."
Hitchcock also likes the prospect of having the one-two punch of Benn and Seguin and center. Benn said the move to center wouldn't be a major adjustment. He played there earlier in his NHL career and ends up with up center responsibilities at times during a game.
"Left wing or center, it's not much of a change. You're playing low in the defensive zone and even as a winger you find yourself down there sometimes in a game," Benn said. "It will be probably just getting used to taking every faceoff and taking faceoffs on my weak side."
On defense, the Stars are expected to go with the pairs used in practice this week: Esa Lindell-John Klingberg; Dan Hamhuis-Greg Pateryn; Jamie Oleksiak-Stephen Johns.
Ben Bishop will get the start in goal. He is 6-4-0 with a 2.71 goals against average and .911 save percentage.
Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal tonight for the Islanders. He is 5-3-0 with a 2.82 goals against average and .906 save percentage. The Islanders come into tonight's game on a nice run, picking up points in seven of their past nine games (6-2-1).
Who: New York Islanders 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
Mattias Janmark - Tyler Seguin - Devin Shore
Gemel Smith - Jamie Benn - Alexander Radulov
Remi Elie - Martin Hanzal - Jason Spezza
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns
Scratched: Jason Dickinson, Curtis McKenzie
Injured: Marc Methot (lower body), Tyler Pitlick (upper body)
Islanders Projected Lineup
Anders Lee - John Tavares - Josh Bailey
Brock Nelson - Mathew Barzal - Jordan Eberle
Andrew Ladd - Alan Quine - Anthony Beauvillier
Jason Chimera - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan - Scott Mayfield
Thomas Hickey - Ryan Pulock
Scratched: Dennis Seidenberg
Injured: Adam Pelech (upper body), Nikolay Kulemin (wrist)
This story was not subject to 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.