Stars defenseman John Klingberg is making steady progress as he works his way back from a hand injury that has kept him out of the lineup the past month.
"I am feeling great," Klingberg said, "and it's coming along at the time frame we thought from the beginning."
Klingberg was injured in the Nov. 8 game against San Jose when a puck off the stick of Sharks forward Evander Kane broke his hand. Klingberg underwent surgery the next day, and the timeframe for a return was said to be at least four weeks. Seven days later, it was revised to at least five weeks, and then the most recent update has his return coming around Christmas.
"The latest we would think would be Dec. 27, the game after Christmas," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said earlier this week. "But he might be right before Christmas."
Klingberg, who has missed 13 games so far, said he would not be traveling with the team on its upcoming road trip, but he has his sights on taking another step forward when the team returns.
Video: Klingberg turns big fan into new friend
"Hopefully, after this road trip I'll be practicing with the team again," he said.
Klingberg has been skating, but he has been unable to tie his own skate laces. And he's been able to do some off-ice conditioning work, but there have been limitations.
"It's been tough because I haven't been able to lift anything with this hand," Klingberg said.
Now, though, he has received clearance to do more with the hand, and that's another step forward.
"I saw the hand doctor [Thursday], and they said they you are good to go and try as much as you can and no sharp pains," Klingberg said. "So, I am going to grab a stick next week and when the guys come back home we will see where I am."
Maintenance day for Radulov, Hanzal
The Stars held a short practice in Frisco on Saturday morning before heading to Las Vegas, where they will open a four-game road trip Sunday.
Forwards Alexander Radulov and Martin Hanzal were not on the ice Saturday. Montgomery said it was a maintenance day for both players. He expects Radulov to be a player Sunday, but they'll be careful with Hanzal, who made his season debut last night after working his way back from spinal fusion surgery and played his first game in 10 months.
Video: SJS@DAL: Hanzal sends Donskoi to the ice with big hit
"Rads for sure. Hanzal, obviously, we'll be a little more cautious with because we don't want any setbacks," Montgomery said. "And it's not back related. It's everything, playing at that kind of force and pace for the first time his muscles are sore, that's all."
Montgomery said even if all of his forwards are available Sunday, he could still make a change, possibly bringing Valeri Nichushkin back into the lineup. Nichushkin has been a scratch two of the past three games.
On the road again
The Stars are back on the road again. Dallas, which has played 13 of its last 20 games on the road, will play four straight away from home on this trip, taking on Vegas, Anaheim, San Jose, and Colorado.
Since losing their first three road games of the season, the Stars are 6-4-2 in their past 12 away from home.
"I think our road play is pretty good," Montgomery said. "I've been happy with our road play since the initial three games, which were three eggs. And now we are cooking with the eggs instead of waiting for them to hatch."
The Stars start the trip with Vegas on Sunday. This will be the first meeting this season between the Stars and Golden Knights, who made it to the Stanley Cup Final last season. Vegas got off to a sluggish start this season, but had won seven of eight heading into Saturday's game against Los Angeles.
"I haven't had the opportunity to see them that much, but I see the team lately that is the same team as last year," Montgomery said. "Ultra-fast, ultra-competitive, you've got to be ready to play, or they will skate you right out of the rink."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.