After sitting out the last game as a healthy scratch, Colton Sceviour will be back in the lineup tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Vancouver Canucks at American Airlines Center. Sceviour, who had offseason shoulder surgery, has had some ups and downs early this season.
“[Sceviour] came off a pretty serious injury and missed parts of camp. I don’t think he’s quite caught up yet and in my case, I’m trying to be patient,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I don’t think he has played as well as last year or skated as well and I think part of that has to do with missing a lot of good conditioning time throughout the summer.”
At Tuesday morning’s skate, Sceviour skated on the fourth line with Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole. With Sceviour in the lineup tonight, it appears Patrick Eaves will be a healthy scratch for the second time in six games.
As expected, Jamie Oleksiak will take the spot of Patrik Nemeth on defense. Nemeth, who suffered an arm laceration in Saturday’s game against Philadelphia, underwent surgery on Sunday and is out for at least the rest of the regular season.
This will be the second game of the season for Oleksiak, who made the Dallas roster out of training camp.
“I thought his first game, a little on the tentative side, which you know you can expect. I’m hoping with more playing time that he gets comfortable out there,” said Ruff. “He feels with a little bit more confidence he can be a little bit more assertive in the zone, but he played some real good preseason games for us … and we need him to carry forward from and build off of that.”
“I think this time, kind of starting off with the team at the beginning of the season, you develop a little bit of a comfort level with the guys and get a little more settled down,” Oleksiak said. “I think that’s definitely something I’m going to try to use to my advantage. Again, I’m fortunate to be up here. I just have to come to the rink and do my job.”
Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice, so he is expected to be in goal tonight for the Stars.
Injury updates: Nichushkin, Gonchar skating
Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin, who has missed the last three games with a groin/hip injury, is skating on his own. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Nichushkin skated lightly yesterday and today, and could take part in Wednesday’s practice.
“Actually, today was a better day for him. Yesterday was just an OK day skating, and today was very encouraging,” Ruff said. “I would hope if things go well maybe tomorrow he can participate in part of our practice, maybe in a non-contact sense or even just the shooting part.”
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who has been out with a fractured ankle since the preseason, has started skating as well.
“He skated yesterday but didn’t skate today,” Ruff said. “We’re kind of day on, day off with him but he’s feeling a lot better, so he’ll probably skate on his own tomorrow, and we’ll see where he’s at.”
Desjardins returns to Texas
Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said Tuesday night’s tilt against the Stars is one of the games he’s had his eye on since the NHL schedule came out in the summer. Desjardins, the former associate coach with the Dallas Stars and head coach of the Texas Stars, will square off against the organization he was a part of for four seasons.
“It’s a special game for me,” Desjardins said. “This is a good organization, and I know a lot of guys in the organization, so it is a special place. So right from the start, I knew when this game was going to be.”
Fifteen of the players in the Dallas lineup tonight played under Desjardins during his time in the Stars organization.
“I have nothing but good things to say about Willie. He helped me out a lot,” said Stars defenseman Jordie Benn. “Obviously, he proved himself down there. He came in there and did an amazing job. He’s a players’ coach. He likes to have a few meetings every now and then and make sure everybody’s happy. All he expects from you is just to come and work every day and work as hard as you can. He’s just a great coach.”
Desjardins had a great two-year run with the Texas Stars, guiding them to the AHL’s Calder Cup championship last season.
“I think Willie did a heck of a job with that team,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I’ve got a lot of respect for the way he handled our young players, and he got those young players up to us and those young players were playing well.”
Who: Vancouver Canucks 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 – Jason Spezza – Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Curtis McKenzie – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: F Patrick Eaves, D Jyrki Jokipakka
Injured: RW Valeri Nichushkin (groin/hip), D Sergei Gonchar (ankle), D Patrik Nemeth (arm laceration)
Canucks projected lineup
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Radim Vrbata
Chris Higgins – Nick Bonino – Alexandre Burrows
Shawn Matthias – Brad Richardson – Zack Kassian
Derek Dorsett – Linden Vey – Jannik Hansen
Dan Hamhuis – Kevin Bieksa
Alexander Edler – Christopher Tanev
Yannick Weber – Luca Sbisa
Scratched: Frank Corrado, Tom Sestito.
Injured: Ryan Stanton (lower body).
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.