As expected, forward Patrick Sharp will return to the Dallas lineup tonight as the Stars take on the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center. Sharp has missed the past 14 games due to a concussion.
"Feel good, feel healthy and strong," Sharp said. "I am past the injury, and I am ready to get back out there and play."
Where Sharp will slot in the lineup tonight is a mystery. With tonight's game starting at 6 p.m., the Stars held an optional skate, so there were no line rushes. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the lines will be a work in progress.
"With Sharp coming back in we are going to have to go through a sorting out process [with the lines] and what's going to work," Ruff said. "Should Sharp be on the left, be on the right? Within a game, I am going to try different options. It might take a bit to get these guys in the right place."
Curtis McKenzie skated late this morning, so it appears he will be the healthy scratch at forward. Jamie Oleksiak is the expected healthy scratch on defense.
Kari Lehtonen, who was superb in Thursdays' 3-2 win over Colorado, is expected to get the start in goal. Lehtonen stopped 40 shots in last week's 3-2 win over the Oilers in Edmonton.
The Stars (7-6-5) come into tonight's game on a five-game points streak (3-0-2). They weren't sharp over the last 40 minutes in Thursday's win over the Avalanche and are looking to bounce back tonight.
"I think we will get a great effort," Ruff said. "I think the one thing this team has done is bounce back from disappointing parts of games. You can look at Winnipeg (8-2 loss on Nov. 8) and how we bounced back after that. We're prepared to bounce back."
"I think just coming out with a strong effort," said Stars captain Jamie Benn. "We need to get back to work and keeping it simple. We want to be hearing comments from other teams that they're a hard-working team, and they outworked us, so it's probably the effort that we're looking for [tonight]."
Stars forward Jiri Hudler will miss his tenth straight game due to illness, but he appears to be making progress.
"He is actually exercising today, which is a real good sign," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's going to start the process of getting back in which, for me, is going to take a good period of time."
Including tonight, Hudler will have missed 15 of the Stars' first 19 games due to the illness issue.
The Oilers (9-8-1) are expected to get some players back tonight. Defenseman Kris Russell will return after missing the past seven games with a lower-body injury. Forward Matt Hendricks will get into the lineup after missing the first 18 games of the season due to a lower-body injury suffered in the preseason. Forward Drake Caggiula is coming off the injured list as well and will make his NHL debut tonight. The Oilers come into tonight's game on a five-game losing streak, all of them in regulation.
Who: Edmonton Oilers at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 6:00 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars Projected Lineup
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Patrick Sharp - Cody Eakin - Jason Spezza
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Lauri Korpikoski
Devin Shore - Adam Cracknell - Brett Ritchie
Dan Hamhuis - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns
Patrik Nemeth - Jordie Benn
Scratched: Curtis McKenzie, Jamie Oleksiak
Injured: Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip)