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Stars vs. Blues Morning Skate: Charging Ahead With The Super Line; Kevin Connauton Draws In

Tuesday’s morning skate for the Dallas Stars was business as usual, with not many changes expected as the Stars prepare for tonight’s divisional mathup against Ken Hitchcock and the St. Louis Blues.

The Stars have roughly used the same line combinations for five games now, going 3-1-1 in that stretch and slowly getting back to the style of play the Stars were comfortable with last season. While the line combinations themselves still seem a bit top-heavy, the truth is that the Stars are getting contributions up and down the lineup and Lindy Ruff believes that continuity is going to help to also fix some of the issues that continue to plague the Stars.

“I think the production and play (is in a groove), when all of your lines are starting to play the same, all of your lines are getting in deep, and all of your lines are making good decisions through the neutral zone where you don’t turn pucks over,” Ruff said. “They were all basically in on the same number of chances [against the Islanders]. The conversion wasn’t as great with some of our lines, but every line scored on the Island. When you get that production, that’s good for a hockey club.”

The Stars played a wild back and forth game against the Islanders and perhaps got caught up in the lack of structure. Facing the Blues, the Stars will have a much different type of game to play through tonight and the Stars know what to expect — especially after the late-season success the Stars had against the Blues last season.

“We had tough games against them last year and I expect the same,” Ruff said. “I don’t expect an end-to-end game. Both teams know how they need to play to win. On our side, we maybe have a little bit more risk in our game than they do, but that’s part of how we play. But at the same time, the last two or three times we played them, the chances were down. The attention to details from both teams was good and I would expect more of the same.”

Here are the lines from morning skate:

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

Goligoski – Daley
Benn – Dillon
Connauton – Oleksiak

Kevin Connauton draws back in on Tuesday night, with Curtis McKenzie and Jyrki Jokipakka looking to be the healthy scratches. The Stars young defensemen have had good and bad moments this season, and Ruff wants them to first of all focus on their own end before worrying about going the other direction.

“I need him to play well in his own end, that’s first and foremost for any defenseman,” said Ruff on Connauton. “We want to keep all the defensemen going and we feel like Kevin’s a big part of that. Obviously, we’ve given Jokipakka an opportunity and he’s played well and Oleksiak’s played well. So we want to keep moving these guys along. He’ll come back in. We’ll see how he plays. It all starts with how you play in your own end.”

Kari Lehtonen is in net tonight.