DALLAS -- Stephen Johns understands his task. He really is reacting day-to-day right now, and that's fine with him. It's much better than what he was doing for the previous year or so.
Johns, who missed a season and a half with post-traumatic headaches, has played in four games since Jan. 18. He also has missed two games. That was by design, as the Stars are trying to be cautious in their quest to get Johns gets back to a normal pace in the NHL. While the 27-year-old defenseman had a goal and an assist against the Rangers on Monday, he sat out Tuesday against the Islanders. He's playing tonight against the Wild in Dallas, but he might be a healthy scratch Saturday when the Stars play at St. Louis.
"I want to do whatever I can to help this team out, and if that's playing every other game or not playing back-to-backs, that's fine with me," Johns said. "I just want to be around the team and do whatever I can to help us get into the playoffs."
Johns can be a big part of that.
Video: Stars look to take advantage of being on home ice
At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, he's one of the bigger players on the Stars. He also has been a physical player in his career and has a big shot that could help on the power play. While he doesn't have big numbers in his career with 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 154 games, he has shown in his two games in the AHL, and in that game against the Rangers that he can score.
That said, interim coach Rick Bowness has eight defensemen who can all play and two have to sit out each game, so he is trying to make difficult decisions that help the players and give the Stars the best chance to win each night.
Taylor Fedun will miss his ninth straight game tonight and Bowness said he would like to get Fedun in soon. As for Johns, Bowness said: "With Stephen, we take it one game at a time and see how he's doing. It's as simple as that."
Johns said he's fine with that. He had an emotional game Monday with his parents in the stands and then was able to spend a little time with his parents on Tuesday before and after the Islanders game.
"It was good to see them," he said. "I hung out with them for a while after the Rangers game. They were very excited. My parents had never seen me play in Madison Square Garden, sort of the Mecca of all sports, so it was special and emotional not only for me, but for them too. I got a ton of texts from a lot of people, so it's all been really nice."
Video: DAL@NYR: Johns hammers puck home from blue line
Johns grew up in the small town of Wampum, Pa., and he has received support when he has played in Cleveland in the minors or in Pittsburgh in the NHL. He has a large support group, and he said it's always good to be reminded of that.
"Throughout this whole process, you don't really realize how many people are in your corner until something goes well for you, and then you get to see it," he said. "When you realize how many people have been supporting you throughout this process, that might have been the best part of the past few days."
Which is a nice sign. As for when he's in or when he's not, Johns is taking a positive view on everything.
"I'm just taking it day by day and just trying to feel good every day," he said.
Parise, son of former North Star, to play in 1,000th game
The Stars moved from Minnesota to Dallas in 1993, so a lot of the history of the organization has faded into the background. But there have been a couple of reminders the past few games that the franchise has a long and proud history, as two children of former players are getting honored.
Kieffer Bellows, the son of Brian Bellows, made his NHL debut Tuesday with the Islanders against Dallas. Tonight, Zach Parise, the son of J.P. Parise, is expected to play in his 1,000th NHL regular season game.
J.P. Parise played 588 games with the Minnesota North Stars from 1967-79 with a stretch playing for the Islanders and Barons inbetween. He tallied 154 goals and 242 assists for 396 points. He passed away in 2015 after a battle with lung cancer.
For Zach Parise, 35, it's been a hard journey through some tough injuries, but he said he's excited about the experience.
"It's been fun," Parise told the Star Tribune. "It's been hard work, but I've loved it. I've loved playing. I've loved working to get here and to stay here. The whole process has been great. I'm lucky to be here and to be in the NHL for this long."
Video: Gurianov ready for rematch with Minnesota
Defensive shuffle continues for Stars
The Stars continue to shuffle their eight defensemen and it looks like Andrej Sekera will come out after playing two games while Roman Polak will stay in. Johns will take Sekera's place.
Joel Kiviranta will continue to be the healthy scratch among forwards, while Ben Bishop will get the start in goal.
Bishop is 6-4-1 in his career against the Wild with a 1.81 GAA and .932 save percentage.
Video: Cogliano excited to return home after good road trip
By the numbers
The Stars have allowed the first goal of the game in eight straight and 12 of the past 14. They are 9-4-1 in those games. Dallas has been outscored in first periods this season 43-36.
While the Stars lost a 7-0 game to the Wild in Minnesota just before the All-Star break, they are 5-1-1 against Minnesota in their past seven meetings at American Airlines Center.
Dallas is 10-5-2 against Central Division rivals this season. Minnesota is 6-8-1.
He said it
"We know we're going into a hornet's nest. It's a team that's been off for three days and will likely want to exact some revenge against us. These are the games where you dig deep and hopefully come up big."
-- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on playing the second game of a back-to-back against a Stars team that lost 7-0 at Minnesota on Jan. 18
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn - Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin
Denis Gurianov - Jason Dickinson - Corey Perry
Mattias Janmark - Joe Pavelski - Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns
Scratched: D Taylor Fedun, D Andrej Sekera, LW Joel Kiviranta
Injured: C Justin Dowling (lower body), C Martin Hanzal (back)
Don't miss your chance to see the Stars take on the Minnesota Wild when they return home to American Airlines Center tonight at 7:30 p.m. Get your tickets now!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.