The Dallas Stars recalled winger Curtis McKenzie from the AHL on Saturday morning, as Valeri Nichushkin has re-aggravated his injured groin/hip and will likely be out a few games at least. Center Cody Eakin is also out once more with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
"Cody hasn't been able to skate," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "Val won't be on the ice for a couple days. He was re-evaluated again and we'll where we stand after two or three days."
The Stars didn't have any line rushes during morning skate, so it's tough to determine just what the lines will be on Saturday night until the warmups. The Stars could just slide McKenzie right into Nichushkin's slot on the top line (although the rookie has almost primarily ever played LW), but Colton Sceviour has had some good games lately and could find himself moved back up to the top line in Big Val's absence.
So...perhaps lines will look something like this?
Benn - Seguin - Sceviour
Eaves - Spezza - Hemsky
Roussel - Fiddler - Garbutt
Cole - Horcoff - McKenzie
Or...perhaps something like this -- given that Ruff briefly experimented with splitting up Benn and Seguin against the Predators.
Benn - Spezza - Hemsky
Roussel - Seguin - Eaves
Garbutt - Fiddler - McKenzie
Cole - Horcoff - Sceviour
Which would certainly be interesting.
On defense, the Stars skated with these pairings after Lindy Ruff moved his most experienced defensemen to the right side:
Dillon - Daley
Benn - Goligoski
Connauton - Gonchar
It will be interesting to see how Dillon responds moving back to his more natural left side in a role in which he should get some significantly better minutes. Daley has been the Stars' best defenseman this season and has really started to show a lot of good offensive aggression, so Dillon will have to be mindful of his own penchant to join the play on offense as well.
Anders Lindback appears to be in net tonight for Dallas.
Whatever the lines and defensive pairings might be, coach Ruff was positive on Saturday morning about his team's progress after Thursday night's loss to the Nashville Predators. The Stars played a strong third period overall but allowed another soft late goal, and the winless streak was extended to a demoralizing six games.
"The other night we had enough opportunities to win the game," said Ruff. "I think when you give Seguin and Benn seven or eight chances and if they find the back of the net, that game is ours. But they didn't. I believe they will.
"If you play like that, you get inside, you get the inside opportunites that they got -- the puck will go in the net," Ruff continued. "I know Rinne made some good saves. We had some good opportunities, some second opportunities and if you build off that and you're a little sharper on special teams, you win the game."
The Sharks are coming off a tough loss to Vancouver and will have Alex Stalock in net on Saturday, who is 1-2-1 on the season with a 2.22 goals-against average and a strong .924 save percentage.
"They're quick, good speed," Ruff said about the Sharks. "I thought they played a heck of a game against Vancouver, I thought they started to look a lot like our game. With three or four great chances right off the bat and if you can't put the puck in the back of the net, you end up losing the game. At the end, they probably deserved to win the game but they lost. We played them tough last year, they have a lot of speed on their team -- both teams do. The speed through their lineup and the four lines is real good, and the defense moves the puck well. They have a couple of lefty-righties and the get up the ice good."