The Dallas Stars skated this morning at American Airlines Center, and signs of tonight’s pregame Mike Modano number retirement ceremony were evident. New individual banners were hanging in the rafters for Bill Masterton, Bill Goldsworthy and Neal Broten, whose numbers have already been retired by the franchise. A banner with Modano’s No. 9 will go up there tonight. There were towels commemorating the event resting on the backs of each seat in the arena.
As for the Stars, they were focused on tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild, hoping to cap off what will be a special night for Modano and the franchise with a strong effort on the ice.
“We’d like to as a team make this a real special night for Mike and play a heck of a game for him because it’s once in a lifetime and it’s a well-deserved achievement on his part,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Everything around the game is going to be special. We’d like to make the game special too.”
The Stars come into the game in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they are just five points behind the Wild, who sit in seventh place. It’s a chance for the Stars to gain some ground a team ahead of them in the standings.
“We’ve talked about it, but this is a game that for me, if or when we win both teams will have I think it’s 16 points or 18 points in their last 10, 11 games. So we’re keeping up pace with them,” said Ruff. “They’ve won five in a row, which tells you both teams are playing well, but it puts us within three points and puts a little heat on them.”
There are no lineup changes expected for the Stars tonight. Kari Lehtonen was the first off the ice, so it appears he’ll start tonight’s game against the Wild. The forward line combinations and defense pairings in this morning’s skate were the same as the one’s used in Thursday’s 6-1 win over Vancouver. Aaron Rome appears to be the scratch on defense.
Darcy Kuemper will start in goal for the Wild. He’s 11-2-2 with a 1.95 goals against average and .934 in his last 16 starts, which included on no-decision. Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick, acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, will make their Wild debuts tonight.
Quotable: Stars president Jim Lites on tonight’s Mike Modano ceremony
“This is a tribute to Mo, but it’s a tribute to our franchise and it is as much about Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Val Nichushkin, Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin – the young guys who are going to lead this franchise the next ten years – to see how you treat this Dallas icon. It’s as much about how they perceive us and how they feel about this franchise. It’s a big deal and it should be a big deal.”
Who: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m. (Modano number retirement ceremony 6 p.m.)
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Rich Peverley
Erik Cole – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Ray Whitney – Shawn Horcoff – Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton – Sergei Gonchar
Wild projected lineup
Zach Parise – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Matt Moulson – Mikko Koivu – Charlie Coyle
Matt Cooke – Kyle Brodziak – Nino Niederreiter
Dany Heatley – Erik Haula – Cody McCormick
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Marco Scandella
Keith Ballard – Clayton Stoner
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.