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Kari Lehtonen to Start vs. Florida Panthers; Vernon Fiddler Gets Boost to Third Line Center

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The Stars will roll with Lehtonen in net on Friday night.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars have a very important back-to-back this weekend, and the team will have a bit of a different look when they take the ice tonight against the Florida Panthers. With Antoine Roussel out with due to his two-game suspension, the Stars recalled winger Curtis McKenzie from the Texas Stars but it seems that Lindy Ruff is choosing to go a bit differently than what was expected.

Benn - Seguin - Eaves
Cole - Spezza - Hemsky
Eakin - Fiddler - Garbutt
Moen - Horcoff - Sceviour

The thought was that McKenzie could just slot into Roussel's spot on the third line, as he actually fills a similar role as the physical winger. Instead, Ruff has moved Fiddler up and put Eakin on the wing with the idea of giving the veteran center a boost thanks to his strong play the past month or so.

"Right now I'm just rewarding him for how well he's played," said Ruff. "Instead of playing him on the fourth line, I've bumped him up as he's played really well. I've given him an opportunity for some added responsibility and some added ice time."

The Stars will roll with the same defense they used in Boston, with David Schlemko once again the healthy scratch for the blue line.

In goal, the Stars will start Kari Lehtonen in goal after his big game against the Bruins. The Stars netminder has stopped 75 of his last 80 shots for a .940 save percentage and with the Stars acquiring a new backup goaltender, Lehtonen has a chance once again to step up and prove he deserves to keep the starting job.

Jhonas Enroth skated for the first time with his new team on Friday, and after a crazy couple of days that included leaving the only franchise he's known, the 26-year old is ready to step and play when he's needed.

"I've been in [the backup role] before with Lindy and Ryan Miller, so it's something I've been through before and I'm just going to try and stay sharp," said Enroth. "I learned from that experience, when I was younger and I didn't stay sharp throughout the games, so I think I've grown up a bit and I'm more mature and can better handle that situation."

The Stars are working to try and turn around their fortunes at home for the run to the postseason, a must if the Stars have any hopes of making the playoffs. Ruff was asked about what has gone wrong at home, and he stated it pretty emphatically:

"For me it just starts with defending," said Ruff. "We haven't defended well enough here. On the road, I think we've played a smarter game and tighter game and at home we've got into a little bit of entertaining and that's hurt us.

"We've played too loose a game, we've got people caught, we've tried to score goals when we don't need to score goals, and it's really hurt us. That goes right back to the third or fourth home game of the season, where we've had leads and we've given up odd numbered rushes and situations where guys have missed assignments and got on the wrong side of the puck looking for offense."