Valeri Nichushkin will be back in the lineup tonight as the Dallas Stars take on the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center.
Nichushkin, who was a healthy scratch in Tuesday’s game at Colorado, skated on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole during Thursday morning’s skate at the AAC. Nichushkin, who has been playing right wing this season, will line up at left wing for tonight’s game.
“It’s just a look we are going to try,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He’s played four games at right wing and he’s got one shot on net. We’re going to give him a look over there, but that doesn’t mean he is going to stay there. I just think it is a little crowded on the right side. I’ve seen Erik play left side and I don’t like him over there. He’s a lot more effective player on the right. Then you’ve got (Alex) Chiasson and (Rich) Peverley ahead of him. The move to try to get him a little more ice time would be to get him in that third line role at left wing.”
The 18-year-old Nichushkin, the Stars first round pick (10th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft, has struggled at times in his first four regular season games. Ruff said when a talented young player like Nichushkin isn’t producing it can snowball a little.
“I think part of any young player is dealing with the frustration of not scoring,” Ruff said. “When they don’t see their offense they start guessing in the game, they start going to places, they start extending their shifts. He’s got good talent. We know he’s going to be a good player and any young player goes through tough stretches that they are going to have to work their way through.”
Ruff gave Nichushkin Tuesday night off so he could watch a game and perhaps pick up a few things that way. Ruff has talked with Nichushkin as well.
“I spent some time with him yesterday, and that's a process,” Ruff said. “I know he's frustrated. Like any young player, he wants to score and he wants points, and I think all of that will come if the right things happen.”
Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is out for tonight’s game against San Jose. He remains on injured reserve with a lower body injury. Stars coach Lindy Ruff didn’t have much new information on Lehtonen other to say that the Stars netminder is making progress.
“Kari is progressing. He is getting better every day,” Ruff said. “I’d like to give you more. He’s getting better every day and I expect him back in the near future.”
Who: San Jose Sharks at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM
Stars projected lineup
Here’s the Stars projected lineup for tonight. Dan Ellis will get the start in goal. The defense pairings are a question mark for tonight.
“We’re going to keep that a little cloudy for you,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said when asked about the pairs.
Dan Ellis (starter)
Sharks projected lineup
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Tyler Kennedy – Logan Couture – Patrick Marleau
Matthew Nieto – Joe Pavelski – Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard – Andrew Desjardins – Bracken Kearns
Matt Irwin – Brad Stuart
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Scott Hannan - Jason Demers
Antti Niemi (starter)
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