The Dallas Stars were back on the ice in Frisco Tuesday morning, and coach Lindy Ruff juggled things around a little on his forward lines and defense pairs.
Some of the line shuffling had to do with Erik Cole not being on the ice due to a maintenance day and Ruff planning for the possible loss of Ryan Garbutt due to suspension. One of the moves had Valeri Nichushkin playing right wing on the top line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
“We had to change some things around and we thought we take a look at Val up on the right side,” Ruff said. “It’s a look we make take a look at. It depends on where Erik is at. We’re limited on who can play the right side and with (Lane) MacDermid probably going in, we’ve got both him and (Antoine) Roussel on the left side. We may have to shuffle a little bit.”
Rich Peverley, who had been playing right wing on the top line, skated on the third line with Roussel and Shawn Horcoff in Tuesday’s practice. The second line of Ray Whitney, Cody Eakin and Alex Chiasson stayed intact.
The noticeable aspect of the defense pairings in practice was that Aaron Rome and Kevin Connauton did not skate as the fourth pair. Rome skated with Alex Goligoski and Connauton skated with Sergei Gonchar. Ruff was asked if anything should be read into that.
“Possibly,” said Ruff.
One possibility is that Ruff could dress seven defensemen in a game.
“It’s an opportunity to try a couple things,” Ruff said. “Seven D would give me an opportunity to ease somebody into some shifts. I’ve done that in the past a few times, and if you don’t have a heavy schedule, it’s something you can easily go with. It’s an opportunity to look at that and it’s something we’ve talked about.”
The Stars activated Kari Lehtonen from injured reserve on Monday and he went through a full practice with the team on Tuesday. Lehtonen, who has missed the last five games with a lower body injury, is expected to be ready to go for Thursday’s game against Calgary at American Airlines Center.
“Pretty good,” Lehtonen said when asked how he felt after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m happy we have a couple of more days to figure it out. This was just the first total practice with the team. It takes a little time to be a good goalie again, and we are on the right track.
“Being a goalie is not painful anymore. I am able to make saves. A week ago, I wasn’t able to do much. Every day we’ve been able to do more and more, and we are almost there.”
Defenseman Aaron Rome was back at practice Tuesday after being recalled from his conditioning assignment with the Texas Stars of the AHL.
“I feel good. Practice was good. I feel fresh,” Rome said. “It felt good playing a couple games with the guys in Austin. Just want to do what I can here to help out.”
Rome, who missed training camp and the preseason due to offseason hip surgeries, played three games last week with Texas, registering no points and six penalty minutes.
“It was important for me to go down there and focus on it being my training camp, have it be the exhibition games that I didn’t get,” Rome said. “The first game of training camp is always tough. You are trying to get your timing back and your speed, and as a defenseman trying to get your reads. For me, the first game was tough, the second game I felt 50 percent better and the third game I felt back up to where I needed to be. Obviously it’s a different level, it’s not the National Hockey League, but it’s a good start.”
Stars forward Ryan Garbutt’s in-person hearing with the NHL for the hit on Anaheim’s Dustin Penner will be held Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Stars GM Jim Nill will accompany Garbutt to the hearing, which will be held in New York.
Stars practice lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin –Valeri Nichushkin
|Ray Whitney – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel – Shawn Horcoff – Rich Peverley
Lane MacDermid – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Brenden Dillon – Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley – Jordie Benn
Aaron Rome – Alex Goligoski
Kevin Connauton –Sergei Gonchar
Maintenance Day: Erik Cole
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.