Lehtonen Expected in Goal Tonight, Whitney a Game-time Decision

Friday, 03.28.2014 / 12:15 PM CT / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
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Lehtonen Expected in Goal Tonight, Whitney a Game-time Decision

The Dallas Stars are five points out of the final playoff spot with 10 games on their schedule. They have two games in hand on Phoenix, which currently holds the final spot in the Western Conference. That’s the big picture, but the Stars are trying to stay focused on the smaller picture and that’s dealing with what’s directly in front of them.

“Taking them one game at a time and really focusing on the game that you’re playing and getting the job done,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “There’s small areas outside of every game we’re going to have to improve, but it’s trying to make a difference in special teams, playing the way we’ve been most effective and taking advantage of our good opportunities in the game.”

Tonight’s task is Nashville. The Predators are basically out of the playoff picture, but they have been playing well lately. They are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, including a 6-1 win over Buffalo last night. With the Predators playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Stars will be looking for a strong start.

“I’d like to see us score. I’d like to see us play well,” Ruff said with a smile. “Execution with the puck, Nashville’s a pretty good team at taking time and space away, so you’re going to have to make quick plays. We’re going to have to beat their guys off the wall on the offensive zone, get back to the net in a hurry. It’s a little bit different game, a little bit more one-on-one game when you’re playing them versus kind of a collapse game. So early on, you’re going to have to beat your one-on-one match.”

Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice for the Stars, so it looks like he’ll be in goal tonight. Aaron Rome looks like he’ll be in on defense after being a scratch the last game. Ray Whitney, who missed Thursday’s practice due to illness, skated this morning and will be a game-time decision tonight.

“We’re going to dress an extra guy [for warm ups],” Ruff said. “Depending on if he gets a good meal in him and feels well tonight, energy level’s a big deal. He wasn’t feeling well yesterday and was sick but is feeling a lot better today.”

If Whitney is unable to play, Chris Mueller, who was called up from the Texas Stars yesterday, is available.

Erik Cole, who has missed the last three games with an upper body injury, did not skate this morning and is out tonight.

Kevin Connauton was the last player off the ice at today’s skate and is expected to be the scratch on defense.

Nashville didn’t skate this morning. Carter Hutton was in goal last night, so Pekka Rinne is the likely starter tonight.

Friday’s game

Who: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour
Ray WhitneyDustin JeffreyAlex Chiasson

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Jordie BennBrenden Dillon
Aaron RomeSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen
Tim Thomas

Injured: Erik Cole (upper body), Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat)

Scratches: Kevin Connauton, Chris Mueller

Predators projected lineup

Matt Cullen – Mike Fisher – Patric Hornqvist
Eric Nystrom – Colin Wilson – Nick Spaling
Gabriel Bourque – Calle Jarnkrok – Craig Smith
Richard Clune – Colton Sissons – Viktor Stalberg

Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Michael Del Zotto – Victor Bartley
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne
Carter Hutton

Injured: Patrick Eaves (lower body), Paul Gaustad (upper body), Seth Jones (concussion)

Scratched: none

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.




1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 53 32 18 3 146 124 67
5 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
6 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
7 COL 57 28 25 4 153 158 60
8 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
9 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 ARI 53 24 23 6 139 163 54
12 CGY 53 25 25 3 143 156 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49


J. Benn 55 28 34 16 62
T. Seguin 55 28 32 11 60
J. Klingberg 55 10 36 14 46
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 55 16 24 -2 40
A. Goligoski 55 4 20 16 24
C. Eakin 55 10 13 0 23
M. Janmark 55 10 10 14 20
J. Demers 48 7 12 16 19
V. Nichushkin 52 6 13 7 19
A. Niemi 20 10 5 .908 2.52
K. Lehtonen 15 5 0 .912 2.79
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