Update: Silly bloggers we be, jumping the gun. Ruff said afterward the line shuffling was due to Erik Cole being out, so we'll see what happens tomorrow. -end
Did you doodle "Benn-Seguin-Nichushkin" on a loose piece of paper or a cocktail napkin sometime in the last 5 months? Well, good news.
Reports out of Frisco this morning as the Dallas Stars returned to the ice after a Monday off is that first-round draft pick Valeri Nichushkin did indeed skate with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at practice.
Mike Heika said it...
Valeri Nichushkin skating on top line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn at practice this morning. Hmmmm?— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) October 22, 2013
So there it is. What's more interesting (to me) is what that means for the other lines. Was it Peverley with Horcoff and Cole? That would be our first guess, but there's no word yet. A bigger shakeup still would be Peverley on the second line, with Eakin sliding down, but Ruff has been quick to praise Eakin thus far.
We'll update when more info is made available.
As for moving Nichushkin for Peverley, if it sticks - It's dealing from a position of strength (that first line) to help out an area of concern (the bottom six, presumably), and is likely less about getting Nichushkin going than it is about establishing balance throughout.
Still more from Mr. Heika...
Stars D-pairs this morning: Daley-Jordie Benn, Dillon-Robidas, Rome-Goligoski, Connauton-Gonchar. Hmmmmm?— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) October 22, 2013
Stephane Robidas - Brenden Dillon
Trevor Daley - Jordie Benn
Aaron Rome - Alex Goligoski
Sergei Gonchar - Kevin Connauton
Two of those pairings are going to play on Thursday night, for sure, one would think. One of the other two will not. Or Ruff is trolling you, and Goligoski and Gonchar will be back together by tomorrow morning.
Based on what we've heard of Aaron Rome's stint in Cedar Park from the Texas Stars faithful and given the numbers that came out of the Ducks' game, my own divination would seem to point to Kevin Connauton's Stars debut against Calgary.
I'm usually wrong, though.
Either way, it would appear there are some tweaks being applied in Frisco today.
Here are the full lines the Stars were running today, via Mark Stepneski:
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin –Valeri Nichushkin
Ray Whitney – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel – Shawn Horcoff – Rich Peverley
Lane MacDermid – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
You'll notice a few things, the first of which is the presence of Garbutt, who is headed to New York with general manager Jim Nill tomorrow for his in-person hearing about the hit on Dustin Penner. He will almost certainly be out of the lineup for the next several games.
The other is the absence of Erik Cole, who was given his second "maintenance day" in about a week. But given Ruff's quote on how the lines might look for Thursday's game against the Calgary Flames, it seems like there might be some other complicating factor with Cole's availability.
"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."
Make of that what you will.