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Stars coach Ruff concerned with rust

Says time off may be disadvantage for Dallas; prepares for St. Louis

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas --  Coach Lindy Ruff said he is concerned that the Dallas Stars may be rusty when they open the Second Round series with the St. Louis Blues on Friday after having not played since Sunday.

Game 1 is at American Airlines Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Dallas defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-4 at XCel Energy Center in Game 6 of the First Round on Sunday to win the best-of-7 series. Ruff gave his players off Monda and had a full practice Tuesday. They took Wednesday off and practiced Thursday.

But Ruff said that after watching the Tampa Bay Lightning struggle in a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Wednesday, he is concerned about the same thing happening to the Stars. The Lightning had six days between the end of their first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings and the start of the second round.

"For the most part, I hate breaks," Ruff said Thursday. "I hate deciding [how much to practice and how many off days]. We went with two days off and tried to get the necessary rest and follow an every-other-day schedule. I thought [the Lightning] were flat and you even get more scared of, 'Well, did we do enough? Did we skate hard enough in between the days [of practice]?'

"We did what we felt was the right thing, which was get them rest, decompress them, get their minds away from the game. And now they're excited to be at the rink today. We had a great practice. I think tomorrow night they'll be ready."

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Captain Jamie Benn led the Stars with 10 points in the first round and enjoyed the time off.

"I think when you can get your rest right now, it's going to be a good thing," he said. "It's nice to have those days off. We got a couple good practices in and I think we're all itching to go here."

The extra rest hasn't helped center Tyler Seguin, who is out with an injury related to the Achilles tendon cut in his left leg that was surgically repaired in March. Seguin played Game 2 of the first round but has not played since. He has missed 15 of the past 16 games.

"I don't even have a guesstimate on it," Ruff said of when Seguin could resume skating. "I don't even think it'd be fair if I guessed, and if I'm off everybody else will be wondering, why did he guess that?"

Second-line center Jason Spezza missed practice because of a family issue, but Ruff said Spezza, who was second on the Stars with nine points in the first round, will be ready for Game 1.

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