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Posted On Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 1:09 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for the Saturday night contest between the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

BLUES

David PerronDavid BackesT.J. Oshie

Andy McDonaldAlexander SteenVladimir Tarasenko

Jayden Schwartz – Patrik BerglundChris Stewart

Vladimir SobotkaScott NicholRyan Reaves

Wade ReddenAlex Pietrangelo

Barret JackmanKevin Shattenkirk

Kris RussellRoman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Injuries: none

Scratches: Ian Cole, Matt D’Agostini, Jamie Langenbrunner.

NOTES: St. Louis has posted shutouts in two of its first four games, including a 4-0 blanking of Nashville at Scottrade Center on Thursday. Wade Redden made his Blues debut against the Predators, seeing 17:23 of ice time in his first NHL action since 2010. Heading into the contest Saturday, St. Louis has the NHL’s second-ranked power play, converting at a rate of 53.8 percent (7 of 13) and is tied for second in the League with seven power-play goals. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was behind the Dallas bench between 1996 and 2002, leading the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup. RW Jamie Langenbrunner has spent two stints in Dallas, the first from 1994 through 2002 and the latter coming in 2011 when he skated in 39 games after coming over prior to the trade deadline.

STARS

Loui Eriksson - Derek RoyReilly Smith

Ray WhitneyCody Eakin - Michael Ryder

Brenden Morrow - Vernon Fiddler - Eric Nystrom

Ryan GarbuttTom WandellColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski - Stephane Robidas

Aaron Rome - Trevor Daley

Brenden Dillon - Philip Larsen

Christopher Nilstorp

Kari Lehtonen

Scratches: Jordie Benn, Tomas Vincour.

Injuries: Jamie Benn (signed contract Thursday), Jaromir Jagr (back), Kari Lehtonen (undisclosed "tweak").

NOTES: This concludes a short, two-game homestand for Dallas, who lost 3-2 to Chicago in overtime on Thursday night. Through their first four games, the Stars have been on the power play six fewer times than their opposition. Dallas put the Blackhawks on the PP seven times in the OT loss with Chicago converting on three of those opportunities. Rookie goaltender Christopher Nilstorp gets his second NHL start against the Blues. Nilstorp was also between the pipes for Dallas in a 1-0 loss Sunday at Minnesota and stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced from the Wild.

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Posted On Friday, 01.25.2013 / 3:22 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jagr misses practice, day-to-day with stiff back

FRISCO, Texas -- After leaving the ice late in the third period of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night, Dallas Stars wing Jaromir Jagr missed practice Friday, putting his status in doubt for Saturday's game with the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center.

"Yeah, he'll probably be day-to-day. [His] lower back today is a little stiff," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said after practice. "So we'll see how he is in the next couple days. But he knows himself better than we do and he's stiff in his lower back today, hip."

Jagr had two goals and two assists in his Dallas debut last Saturday in a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, his first four-point game since 2007. However, the 41-year-old wing hasn't registered a point since that victory. He had been playing right wing on Dallas' top line alongside Loui Eriksson and center Derek Roy.

The Stars conclude a quick two-game homestand on Saturday night against the Blues, and Gulutzan isn't quite ready to rule Jagr out for that game.

"We'll see what he’s like tomorrow. Right now, I would have to say it's 60/40 no, I would say right now, or maybe even more. But we'll see how he is in the morning and we'll re-evaluate," Gulutzan said. "So you never know. He's a fit guy and he knows what he can and cannot do. So we'll wait and see how Jags is tomorrow."

Jagr, who wasn't at the team's practice facility and thus did not speak to the media, wasn't the only Stars player to miss practice Friday. Fellow newcomers Roy and Ray Whitney also missed the session at the team's Frisco headquarters with what Gulutzan termed as a maintenance day for both players. The Stars coach said Roy and Whitney should be ready to go against St. Louis.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 2:03 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Blackhawks pleased with balanced, prolific start

DALLAS -- There’s no doubt things are going well for the Chicago Blackhawks as Joel Quenneville’s club is off to a 3-0 start, their best since 1972-73 when the Blackhawks began that season with four straight victories.

"Yeah, it [our start] is huge, but we can’t look at it too much," wing Patrick Kane said. "It's only been three games. We've had a good start. Right now I think the biggest question for us is can we keep it up? We feel we've got the team in here that can do it."

The Blackhawks have erased all but one opposing power play so far this season, making their penalty kill tied for third-best in the NHL at 90 percent. But maybe the biggest story for Chicago through three games has been their incredible offensive balance.

Defenseman Nick Leddy is tied for the team lead in assists with three, and blueliners Johnny Oduya and Michael Rozsival are right behind him with two helpers each. Chicago is getting contributions from the usual suspects Kane (two goals, three assists), Marian Hossa (four goals, one assist) Patrick Sharp (one goal, two assists), Jonathan Toews (one goal, two assists) but it’s the offensive balance his club has displayed thus far that has their coach especially pleased.

“We’re getting good contributions across the board. When your best players are your best players, you’re usually going to be OK,” Quenneville said. “But we like the contribution we’re getting across the board right now and I think the balance in our four lines is helping as well.”

The Blackhawks are pleased to start the season 3-0 but that optimism is tempered a bit in knowing that they are only three games into a truncated 48-game season.

“Yeah, it’s still pretty early but it’s nice to win the three games and I think they guys are skating fast, playing at a high pace and that’s impressive because not a lot of us played during the lockout,” Sharp said. “It’s a short season. You want to get in and gather as many points as you can and so far so good.”

And no one is tempering his team’s optimism or expectations more than the man behind the Chicago bench.

“Every game’s meaningful. It seems like it’s a playoff race already. The intensity is amazing,” Quenneville said. “Dallas is working hard here. They play a nice, simple team strong game. Let’s be respectful of what they do, but we’ve got to make sure we keep getting better as we go along here and not be satisfied with what happened.”

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Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 1:09 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Eakin proving a solid addition for Stars

DALLAS -- When the Dallas Stars acquired Cody Eakin in a trade with the Washington Capitals on draft night for Mike Ribeiro, the general consensus was that the young center who appeared in 30 games for the Capitals as a rookie would center the Stars' fourth line this season.

And through Dallas' first two games, that's exactly where the 21-year-old skated for Stars second-year coach Glen Gulutzan, on the fourth line alongside Ryan Garbutt and Reilly Smith.

But before Tuesday's game at the Detroit Red Wings, Gulutzan informed Eakin he was flipping him and Tom Wandell, who had been centering Dallas' second line in the first two games. And in short, it was a move that paid off as Eakin assisted on both Stars goals, which were scored by Michael Ryder, in a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

"I wasn't really expecting it, but come game time it was nice to see that. I just keep playing the way I play -- get them the puck, create energy, be the first one on the forecheck, get them the puck," Eakin said of playing alongside Ryder and veteran Ray Whitney. "A couple of times they turned a little bit of nothing into something. It was a great opportunity for me. Hopefully I continue to work hard and stay on that line for a while.”

Of course, the man who made the call to put him on the second line couldn't be happier with how his decision turned out and plans to keep him alongside Ryder and Whitney for the time being.

"He's got great speed. He's got some grit. He plays the game hard and he has some offensive ability. He can think the game and he plays on both sides," Gulutzan said. "He's just got to get experience. The more experience he gets, the better player he'll become. Now it's not just about one time, it's about keeping that moving forward and being consistent. He was in the American (Hockey) League. He's just got to be that at this level."

As one of a number of young Stars players who played for the club's AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, during the lockout, Eakin, who had 24 points (12 goals) in 35 games in the AHL, definitely hit the ground running for the start of training camp and hasn't looked back.

"Yeah, I think it was definitely nice to be playing. I think it'd be a little tougher coming off not playing like a lot of the guys have. Last year, too, helped me a lot with not being shell-shocked or a little caught off guard with how fast it is," he said. "Obviously there's a lot of room to improve. I don't think I've reached my goal yet of having a really, really good game yet. I think the legs are there from playing so many games. It's going to be a busy stretch, just got to make sure I'm ready to go."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 12:54 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Stars, Blackhawks

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for Thursday night’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

BLACKHAWKS

Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Patrick SharpDave BollandPatrick Kane

Bryan BickellAndrew ShawViktor Stalberg

Brandon BolligMarcus KrugerMichael Frolik

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook

Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson

Nick LeddyMichal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Ray Emery

Injuries: Daniel Carcillo (lower body), Steve Montador (upper body)

Scratches: Sheldon Brookbank, Jamal Mayers

Notes: Chicago, which beat St. Louis 3-2 in its-home opener on Tuesday at United Center, is 3-0-0 to start the season for the first time since 1972-73. Through their first three games, the Hawks have killed off 90 percent of opposing power plays, allowing just one power-play goal, tying them for the second-best PK in the League. Chicago is 2-0-0 on the road so far this season. The Hawks and Stars split their four meetings last season with each team winning once at home and once on the road. Seabrook currently leads the league in blocked shots with 13.

STARS

Loui Eriksson - Derek Roy - Jaromir Jagr

Ray WhitneyCody Eakin - Michael Ryder

Brenden Morrow - Vernon Fiddler - Eric Nystrom

Ryan GarbuttTom Wandell - Reilly Smith

Alex Goligoski - Stephane Robidas

Jordie Benn - Trevor Daley

Brenden Dillon - Philip Larsen

Kari Lehtonen

Christopher Nilstrop

Scratches: Colton Sceviour

Injuries: Aaron Rome (groin)

Notes: Dallas split the two games on its first road trip of the season, losing at Minnesota on Sunday but prevailing 2-1 in Detroit on Tuesday. The Stars did not practice on Wednesday since mechanical issues with the team's plane forced them to spend Tuesday night in the Motor City. They did not arrive back in Dallas until Wednesday evening. Stars second-year head coach Glen Gulutzan flipped Eakin, who had been centering Dallas' fourth line, with Wandell, who had been skating on the second line, against the Red Wings and the move paid off as Eakin assisted on both Stars goals, which were scored by Ryder, who led Dallas with 35 goals last season.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:45 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Veteran Stars eager to end playoff drought

DALLAS -- After trading Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro this offseason, there are just four current members of the Dallas Stars who were with the club the last time they made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2008, when Dallas finished fifth in the Western Conference and reached the conference finals.

The group consists of defenseman Trevor Daley, forward Loui Eriksson, captain Brenden Morrow and veteran blueliner Stephane Robidas. Since losing to the Detroit Red Wings in six games in the 2008 Western Conference Finals, Dallas has missed the playoffs four straight seasons and it's a trend this group would not like to see continue this year, the franchise’s 20th in Dallas.

“It’s been a long time, obviously too long. The time’s now to get it done,” Daley said. “There’s no excuses this year. We’ve got a good group and this should be a playoff team.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:25 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Projected Lineups: Coyotes at Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for Saturday night’s game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

COYOTES

Steve Sullivan-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata

Mikkel Boedkker-Matthew Lombardi-Shane Doan

Lauri Korpikoski-Antoine Vermette-David Moss

Paul Bissonnette-Boyd Gordon-Kyle Chipchura

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Zybnek Michalek

Keith Yandle-Derek Morris

Rotislav Klesla-David Schlemko

Mike Smith

Jason LaBarbera

Injuries: Raffi Torres (suspension).

Scratches: Alex Bolduc, David Rundblad.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 1:56 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sharks anticipate better effort from Stars in rematch

DALLAS -- On Saturday night, the San Jose Sharks dispatched the Dallas Sharks at HP Pavilion, blanking them 3-0, a game where Dallas was clearly feeling the effects of being on the second night of a back-to-back.

These Pacific Division rivals meet for a sixth and final time this regular season on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, and while Sharks coach Todd McLellan would like to see an effort from his club similar to what they delivered just three days ago in the Bay Area, he also knows they will see a different Stars team this time around.

"I think we'll see a better effort on their behalf," McLellan said. "They won't be playing back-to-back. They won't be at the back end of a four-game road trip. They've had two days off. Think they'll get some healthy people back into the lineup. That should just make us elevate our game a little bit more as well.

"I liked our game in San Jose. I liked a lot of the things that we did. We have to take it to another level now in this building and be fully prepared to play."

San Jose (40-29-10, 90 points) has taken four of five meetings from Dallas this season, with the lone exception being a 4-3 shootout loss during its last trip to the Lone Star State back on March 8.

And there's no escaping that the Sharks seem to be one team the Stars have more than a little trouble matching up with on the ice.

"It's just those types of games where they've got players who get under your skin and I think they fire us up," San Jose center Logan Couture said. "I think we rise to the occasion. They're obviously a good team. We enjoy playing against them."

The Sharks currently sit eighth in the Western Conference standings with 90 points, just one point ahead of the Stars, who are currently ninth with 89. The Avalanche are one point behind Dallas in 10th with 88 points, which makes Tuesday's game even more crucial.

"We're sitting in eighth place and it's going to be a battle down to the end. Treat this like a playoff game, so it's a big one tonight," Couture said.

Of course, it might sound cliché to say treating their final three games all like playoff games is an absolute no-brainer, but that's exactly how San Jose is treating the final week of the regular season.

"We've passed the first test. If we're looking at a four-game series to finish the year to get into the playoffs, we've passed the first test with some pretty good results," McLellan said. "Now we're out on the road. We'll find out a little bit about ourselves tonight here in a hostile environment with some pressure that's put on us based on where we are in the standings."

San Jose is now almost completely healthy. Defenseman Douglas Murray, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, did skate on Tuesday morning, but according to McLellan is a game-time decision.



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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stars know exactly what's at stake against Sharks

DALLAS -- Just three days after losing 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion, the Dallas Stars get another crack at their Pacific Division rivals, this time Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.

And with the Stars (42-32-5, 89 points) currently sitting ninth in the Western Conference standings with just three games remaining, there's no doubt how huge this game is if they are to have any chance of ending a three-year playoff drought.

"Yeah, we've talked about that a lot here the last couple days," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We control our own fate, is what we worked for, and the other thing is the conditions are good. We're not back-to-back or coming in late. We're at home with a practice, a day off and a morning skate. The conditions are what you want this time of year to have success."

Dallas is 4-6-0 over its last 10 games, including a 1-3-0 record on a recently-concluded road trip that took the Stars through Western Canada before ending in San Jose on Saturday night.

On the plus side, the Stars figure to get back third-line winger Eric Nystrom, who missed the last three games after suffering a cut on his leg in a 5-4 loss at Calgary on March 26.

"Nystrom went through a full practice. He's a full go," Gulutzan said.

Dallas may or may not have the services of veteran winger Radek Dvorak, who has missed the last four games with an ankle injury. Gulutzan termed him as a game-time decision.

"I know Devo's chomping at the bit to go. He's a pro and he's a hungry pro," Gulutzan said. "He takes care of himself and he’s been waiting for an opportunity. We've got to make a decision based more on health than anything."

Other that getting Nystrom back, it looks like the Stars will also have a capacity crowd for this crucial game with the Sharks. And after returning from a road trip that can at best be labled as disappointing, seeing a full house will be a welcome sight for the Dallas players.

"It'll be nice. Last game you look at their crowd [in San Jose] can get into it and it's definitely an advantage. That team over there is a different team on the road than when they're at home," Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski said. "I think that's something we kind of want to establish here. We want to be extremely tough to beat at home and a big crowd will amp it up. It's obviously an important game as it is, so it'll just make it even that much more fun."

In Saturday's 3-0 loss at San Jose, the Stars did outhit the Sharks 42-17 -- and while that statistic can be a bit misleading, Dallas does want to bring a similar level of physicality to its sixth and final meeting of the regular season with their division rival.

"We want to be physical against them," Stars winger Adam Burish. "I think that just goes with the energy -- the way you play, the way you get on pucks, the way we forecheck. They do such a good job with the way they come out of their zone. We're going to have to be more physical, which means getting two guys on the puck."

But no matter how he and his teammates look at it, Tuesday night's game is a definite must-win.

"If you want to control it and tell yourself that you're going to have a realistic chance of making the playoffs, you have to win tonight," Burish said. "That's the way I'm kind of approaching it. This is one that you've got to have."
   
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.03.2012 / 1:28 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for Tuesday night's game between the San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

SHARKS
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryan Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
T.J. Galiardi - Dominic Moore - Torrey Mitchell
Daniel Winnik - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Brent Burns - Jason Demers
Justin Braun - Colin White

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

Injuries: Douglas Murray (undisclosed)

Scratches: Benn Ferreiro, Michal Handzus, Jim Vandermeer, Brad Winchester

Notes: Not only are the Sharks seeing their second victory over the Stars in a span of three days, but San Jose is also looking to avenge a 4-3 shootout loss during its last trip to American Airlines Center back on March 8. However, the stakes are much higher for this sixth and final meeting between these Pacific Division rivals. A win by San Jose and it takes a major step toward securing a playoff berth -- and in the process, the Sharks could deal a near-fatal blow to any postseason aspirations on the part of the Stars. Saturday's game was a physical affair and this one figures to be no different.

STARS
Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Jamie Benn - Adam Burish
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Tomas Vincour
Brenden Morrow - Jake Dowell - Ryan Garbutt

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Philip Larsen - Alex Goligoski
Trevor Daley - Mark Fistric

Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman

Injuries: Radek Dvorak (ankle), Eric Nystrom (leg)

Scratches: Adam Pardy, Toby Petersen, Reilly Smith, Tom Wandell

Notes: The Stars head into Tuesday's meeting with the Sharks on the outside looking in as far as the Western Conference playoff race. Saturday's 3-0 loss at San Jose knocked them to ninth, which makes the sixth and final meeting between these Pacific Division rivals crucial for both clubs. It looks like Nystrom will be ready to return. He suffered a cut on his leg during Dallas' recently-concluded four-game road trip, while fellow third-liner Dvorak, who is battling an ankle issue, was called a game-time decision by Stars coach Glen Gulutzan after practice on Monday. Saturday's loss at HP Pavilion marked the first time the Stars hadn't scored at least one goal in 34 games. Dallas had last been shut out on Jan. 16 when it fell 1-0 to the Blues in St. Louis.
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