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Thursday Update: Enroth to Play This Weekend; Roussel Suspended Two Games; Nemeth Cleared to Practice

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Stars were back on the ice Thursday morning in Frisco, and there was plenty of news. Defenseman Patrik Nemeth was on the ice, and he scrapped the red no-contact jersey after getting cleared for a full practice. The NHL suspended Antoine Roussel two games for cross-checking Boston’s Adam McQuaid. And Stars coach Lindy Ruff said new goaltender Jhonas Enroth will play this weekend, and that he doesn’t view Enroth as a backup.

Enroth, acquired from Buffalo on Wednesday, was scheduled to arrive in Dallas Thursday afternoon. Enroth will join the Stars for Friday morning’s skate at American Airlines Center and will play a game this weekend. Which one is not known. The Stars host Florida Friday and play at Colorado Saturday.

“It serves no purpose to bring him in and not get him in there, get him going right away,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I don’t want him sitting around. I think he deserves that from the way he has played. It gives us that opportunity to keep two guys fresh.”

The Stars acquired Enroth from the Sabres for Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round draft pick in 2016. Ruff coached Enroth in Buffalo and coached against him on the international stage. The Stars coach said Enroth will provide more goaltending experience as the team heads down the stretch.

“I like him because he has grown as a goaltender,” Ruff said. “He was a backup when I had him, but he was the guy that led Sweden to the World Championship (2013). I coached the other bench (Canada) on the game we got knocked out. He’s proven he can win on an elite level. He’s been in the biggest games, and we’re going to have a lot of big games down the stretch. I just think he is tested. I think his game has grown. He’s faced a ton of rubber this year. He’s had that little more experience (than Anders Lindback) and I think he gives a little more chance to win inside of this last stretch of games.”

Asked if he saw Enroth as a backup goaltender or a 1B, Ruff had this to say.

“He’s proven he can be a starter,” Ruff said. “In our eyes, we’ve improved our team. Some of these back-to-backs we’ve got – even depending on play – it could go to either guy playing. Right now, we are at desperation point. We need to win games and I need him to step in, play really well and win games for us. We are going to take it one game at a time. I don’t think you can call him a backup after he has been a starter and won a World Championship. That isn’t backup material anymore.”

Roussel suspension

The NHL suspended Antoine Roussel two games for his cross-check on Boston’s Adam McQuaid in Tuesday’s game. The incident happened early in the game when McQuaid went after Roussel following a hit in the neutral zone. The Dallas forward got his stick up and cross-checked McQuaid in the throat, receiving a major penalty and game misconduct.

“Of course, I have to take care of my stick,” Roussel said. “I am just trying to protect myself. I didn’t want to fight. I blocked two shots before that with my right hand. My hand was numb, and I didn’t want to fight. …. I tried to defend myself, and I am glad he didn’t get hurt.”

“Emotions running high. That’s all it was,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I am not going to make any more of it.”

This is the first suspension for Roussel, who was fined earlier this season for punching unsuspecting San Jose defenseman Justin Braun. Roussel will miss Friday’s game vs. Florida and Saturday’s game at Colorado. He’ll be eligible to return for Tuesday’s game at St. Louis.

“It’s always hard to take,” Roussel said of the suspension. “I’ve tried to be better this year with the referees and stuff like that. It’s tough to take when you try to get better. It’s a couple steps back I guess.”

Roussel will forfeit $21,505.38 in salary. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Nemeth cleared to practice; timeline for return moves up

Stars defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who has been out since October with an arm laceration, was on the ice for Thursday morning’s practice, and he wasn’t wearing the red no-contact jersey.

“It was good,” said Nemeth. “I’ve been on the ice for more than a month, but obviously it is different going out there with the team and the pace and the passes. So that was good. It felt good. It was a lot of fun, too.”

“Full contact now. We’ll give him a week of grinding away here and see where he is at,” Ruff said. “He’s been cleared, he is ahead of schedule and he is chomping at the bit. Another piece that could be a big player for us down the stretch.”

The next step for Nemeth probably will be playing some games with the Texas Stars of the AHL. Whether he’ll be ready for that step in the next week or so is still to be determined.

Nemeth has been out since Oct. 18 when he was cut on the arm by the skate of Philadelphia forward R.J. Umberger. At first, the Stars thought he would be out for the rest of the regular season. But with a third of the season still left, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Nemeth.

“I’ve got to get in game shape,” Nemeth said. “Get in game shape and play as soon as possible.”

Notes: Seguin sits out practice, will play tomorrow

*Stars center Tyler Seguin did not practice Thursday due to illness. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Seguin will play Friday against Florida.

“He’ll play tomorrow,” Ruff said. “Just kept him off today. Doctor thought it would be the best thing for him.”

*Travis Moen, who has missed the past five games with a lower-body injury, practiced Thursday and is ready to return.

“Moen is good to go, so he is an option,” Ruff said. “We have obviously one extra forward with Moen an option.”

*With Antoine Roussel out for the next two games due to suspension, Curtis McKenzie skated in his place on a line with Cody Eakin and Ryan Garbutt. But Ruff said not to read too much into that.

“Lines were all messed up today with Seguin not skating,” Ruff said.

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.

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