DALLAS — The Dallas Stars are going to field a more physical lineup against the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie are both back in, while veterans Jiri Hudler and Lauri Korpikoski appear to be the healthy scratches.
“They’ve played hard (and) they worked hard,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “(Ritchie) has nine goals and Curtis has done a good job penalty killing and has been a hard physical player. He’s another that gives us size, harder on the puck. When I’m talking winning battles, I might have to put bigger stronger players in to win battles. And Brett’s been one of our best guys with possesion, and so has Curtis. So you have two bigger stronger men on the puck and we need to have it.”
McKenzie has sat eight straight games after he had a turnover and bad penalty against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 4. Ritchie sat the past two games after playing the first 45 this season.
While they watched from the press box the Stars looked sluggish in a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders, and several veteran players looked passive and didn’t provide much of a spark.
And the Stars need a spark against a Washington Capitals team that has points in 12 straight games and has scored at least five goals in five straight games.
“We’re going to have to play a game where if you want to look at 50-50 battles, or one-on-one battles, are determination is going to have to be greater,” Ruff said.
Stars want Honka to watch
Julius Honka was recalled from the AHL on Friday, but won’t play against the Capitals.
Ruff said he wants Honka to watch the game closely.
“I think there is a lot Julius has to learn,” Ruff said. “Going through his games, you can’t be a minus player, or a minus-young player and be an effective young player if you’re getting more goals scored against than your creating when you are on the ice. Why is that happening? Is it your gap? Is it your defensive zone play? What’s going on that leads to that and the reason your not in that enough to sway that in the one direction? So if a young guy is coming in he has to be a difference maker. Some of that is the speed, which obviously he can go back and make plays, I still think there’s stuff to learn and there’s the battles that are even bigger as this level than the American League level.”
Honka has played eight NHL game this season and has three assists.
Capitals projected lineup
Alex Ovechkin — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Justin Williams
Brett Connolly — Lars Eller — Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik — Jay Beagle — Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner — Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik — Dmitry Orlov
Taylor Chorney — Nate Schmidt
Injured: John Carlson (lower body)
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn — Cody Eakin — Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel — Jason Spezza — Tyler Seguin
Devin Shore — Radek Faksa — Patrick Sharp
Curtis Mckenzie — Adam Cracknell — Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell — John Klingberg
Patrik Nemeth — Stephen Johns
Dan Hamhuis — Jordie Benn
Scratched: Lauri Korpikoski, Jiri Hudler, Julius Honka
Injured: Mattias Janmark (knee), Ales Hemsky (hip), Jamie Oleksiak (hand), Johnny Oduya (lower body)