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Dallas Stars Morning Skate: Jason Demers Questionable With Illness, Jamie Oleksiak In Lineup?

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It appears rookie defenseman John Klingberg will be in the lineup, but the Stars may be without another steadying force on the blueline as Demers was sent back to the hotel from morning skate with an illness.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

As with most things this Dallas Stars season, there's both good news and bad news coming out of Tuesday's morning skate in Philadelphia.

The good news is, at least apparently, rookie defenseman John Klingberg seems ready to go after missing the second half of Saturday's loss in Tampa Bay with a lower-body injury.

The bad news is we know that because another defenseman, Jason Demers, is questionable with an illness.

"He's sick," Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the media after morning skate. "He was here earlier this morning, then we sent him back."

Demers has been one of the steadier members of the Stars blueline since being acquired for Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks earlier this season. While he was advertised as a power-play specialist to some extent (as well as the needed right-handed shot), he's proven to be a solid physical and possession player.

If Demers is unable to play tonight, emergency call-up Jamie Oleksiak would slide into Demers lineup spot, meaning the Stars would be playing four rookie defensemen tonight against the Flyers - Klingberg, Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth and Jyrki Jokipakka alongside Jordie Benn and Alex Goligoski. That's quite a bit of youth out there on a team where defense from the forwards sometimes seems optional this season.

In fact, Ruff was asked about if his team might play better now that they are essentially out of the playoff race, the idea being that they can play loose rather than tight and avoid some of the over-trying mistakes. The Stars coach disagreed with that assessment.

"I don't think we've been gripping the sticks tight," Ruff said. "We scored enough goal to win last game, and we weren't playing a loose game. We made a couple mistakes forechekcing after we'd been on the ice for too long, over 50 seconds. And when tired players are on the ice, you're trying to get off. And we let the opposition get a crack at us on the rush."

One of the reasons the Stars were able to keep it close against the Lightning was the return of Tyler Seguin, who had two goals and, while he wasn't quite his All-Star form, looked very dangerous in his return from an MCL sprain.

It's an injury he can't hurt worse by playing on it, but even he realizes he will be hampered by the healing process for the rest of the season

The Stars are still on their never-ending quest for a hot (or even generally average) goalie this season, and while Jhonas Enroth wasn't the problem last game, he wasn't able to make the difference for the Stars either.

Given that, it's little surprise that Kari Lehtonen was the first goalie off the ice and appears to be the starter tonight.