The Dallas Stars returned from the All-Star break Monday afternoon and are healthier than they were before the break.
Defenseman Trevor Daley (undisclosed), Erik Cole (upper body), Patrick Eaves (ankle) and Brett Ritchie (undisclosed) were all on the ice for practice. And Stars coach Lindy Ruff indicated Daley, Eaves and Ritchie should be ready to play Tuesday at Montreal.
Daley has missed the last three games and was considered a question mark coming out of the break. But there was encouraging news Monday.
“Daley looks like he should be a go for tomorrow,” Ruff said.
Ritchie has missed the last three games and Eaves has been out since early December. Both were expected to be back right after the break and Ruff said they are good to go.
“Eaves and Ritchie are both ready, too,” Ruff said.
Cole suffered an upper body injury in last Tuesday’s game against Boston. He skated in a red no-contact jersey Monday. The initial thought was that Cole could be out a “period of time,” but the outlook was a brighter following Monday's practice.
“Cole I think is out [Tuesday],” Ruff said. “We had him out there in a non-contact, although we got better news than expected. He’s feeling pretty good.”
The Stars called up defensemen Jyrki Jokipakka and Jamie Oleksiak from Texas (AHL) and both practiced with the team Monday. Ruff said if Daley is ready to go then the Stars could send a defenseman back to the AHL to get playing time.
The Stars practiced for about an hour Monday in Frisco to get back in the swing of things after having not been on the ice since last Tuesday.
“Just touching every area to see where we are at,” Ruff said. “We got a good hour skate in and got some of the rust off after being off for a week.”
The Stars will resume play with a three-game road trip that will take them to Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg. The Stars are four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 36 games to play. With an 11-5-2 record over their past 18 games, the Stars believe they are trending the right way as they push for a playoff spot.
“We found our identity, how we want to play and what gives us success. That’s encouraging going into the homestretch because we’re not searching for how we want to play,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “I think our identity now is we play fast, we use everybody. We use a lot better back pressure, and I think we’ve defended much better. We try to play an up-tempo game, making sure we are pushing teams on the offense but also creating lots of back pressure on the defense.”
Here was the Stars practice lineup for Monday. Tyler Seguin was not at practice. He was meeting the team in Montreal following his appearance at All-Star weekend in Columbus.
Jamie Benn – Shawn Horcoff – Brett Ritchie
Patrick Eaves – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
David Schlemko – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jamie Oleksiak
Red no-contact jersey: Erik Cole
Not practicing: Tyler Seguin (traveling to Montreal from Columbus)
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