Update: Jamie Benn has been cleared to play Monday night against the Blue Jackets.
The Dallas Stars will have to wait at least one more game to see the full team in action, as Derek Roy will not play tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets and did not make the trip with the team. Roy is still day-to-day with a groin injury, missing Saturday's loss to the Blues, and logic says he'll likely miss tomorrow night's game as well since he didn't make the trip.
The good news is that Jaromir Jagr and Jamie Benn should be on the ice together for the first time, although we are still awaiting word on whether Benn's visa paperwork has been approved. He needs to be added to the NHL roster by 4 p.m. CT in order to play tonight in Columbus.
The lines at morning skate were, according to Mike Heika:
Vincour gets another shot to show that he's found a new level of play since being left off the training camp roster, while it seems that Reilly Smith will likely be a healthy scratch after getting a shot in the top six on Saturday.
This is also a chance to see the line combination we've been discussing since last summer, with Benn playing between Eriksson and Jagr, although it's likely that Roy slides back into that slot when he returns from injury. Cody Eakin will once again be asked to play big minutes, as the Stars get closer to actually putting the full team on the ice for the first time this season.
Jaromir Jagr is expected to be ready to go after dealing with a back injury that apparently popped up during the team's rough return from Detroit last week.
"That long flight and long sitting in a plane, it started hurting my hip and back since then," Jagr said on Monday. "Before the Chicago game, I tried to massage it and stretch it, but it got it worse and worse."
Jagr will be playing with Benn for the first time, a player who gave Jagr a big reason to come to Dallas in the first place.
"I think for Dallasites, they don't have to worry about the future," Jagr said. "He's a pretty good player. It was good for the Dallas organization and the city that they were able to sign him for the longer term. He's a big guy, and from what I saw his hands are quick. That's very important."
Jamie Benn is expected to play tonight, although the team is still waiting to hear whether the immigration paperwork was sorted out or not.
Coach Glen Gulutzan stated that if Jamie Benn were not to play tonight because of the visa issues, then Reilly Smith is ready to jump back in. The Stars want the young player to take a step back and watch a game, and be ready for tomorrow's tough matchup against Detroit.
Now for the interesting changes. Per Heika, defensive pairs at the skate were:
The Stars have had a big issue with giving up shots this season and have struggled to effectively move the puck out of the zone. It seems that Gulutzan is going to attempt to fix this issue by completely shaking up the defensive pairs and spreading out the skill among the pairings.
"We just switched around some pairs. It's nothing permanent," said Gulutzan. "We just wanted to... Goose and Lars played together most of last season. We felt we're taking in some shots. Bottom line is, we've got to start winning some more battles. We talked about it and watched some video on it. Hopefully we're better tonight because this is a hard working team.
"You don't know," Gulutzan continued, when asked about the chemistry on the pairings. "We're early in the season, right? So we went with something in training camp, and we're looking for maybe if there's something better. So we had a day here to kind of see if we can get some kind of chemistry going."
Aaron Rome has the flu and stayed in Dallas.
This should be a big opportunity for Brenden Dillon, who has looked tentative at times this season with the puck, and hopefully we'll get to see Alex Goligoski get freed up a bit when not being thrown to the wolves. The Stars' biggest struggles have come on defense this season so, at the very least, the Stars seem intent on addressing it sooner than later.
Kari Lehtonen will be in goal for Dallas, Sergei Bobrovski in net for Columbus.
Finally, Gulutzan spent some time after the morning skate today discussing what he's seeing with the Stars and how they're working on improving. The Stars have a number of new players on the team and have yet to put the full roster on the ice, all while not having the compliment of a full training camp. Every team is in the same boat, yet it's clear those with more turnover than others are struggling a bit out of the gate.
"Our issues are fairly simple," said Gulutzan. "People can speculate, but the game tape looks suspiciously like the game itself. I've heard that quote before, and tha'ts what it did last night. We've got to win battles. We lost 1 v 1 battles and we turned the puck over, unforced turnovers of the puck. When you do that, when you look at your 19 chances against last night, 14 were turnovers or 1 on 1 battles. We've got to get better in those areas, puck management and increase our battle level."
The problem is that with the condensed schedule and the brutal travel schedule for the team, there's not enough time to work on these issues in practice. Gulutzan stated the team is doing what it can through meetings and film work.
"There hasn't been really a day where we haven't shown something," said Gulutzan. "Like I said, training camp is 21 or 22 days whatever it is, and I think we're still in that portion of our season where you have to show things to get better. We're sitting okay right now, .500, that's okay. That's not where we need to be. Our goal is at Game 10 we're better and at game 20 we're better than 10, and that's what we're pushing to do."