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Dallas Stars Olympians will return to NHL Ice Tuesday

by Graham Clark / Dallas Stars

After an exciting Olympic tournament the Dallas Stars will return to American Airlines Center on Tuesday night to face off against their division rival Los Angeles Kings, in a game that will feature nine Olympians (four for Dallas, five for Los Angeles).The Dallas Stars Olympians will be bringing home a Gold (Morrow- Canada) and a Bronze (Lehtinen- Finland) medal. The Los Angeles Kings feature a Gold (Doughty- Canada) and three Silvers (Brown, Johnson, Quick- USA) from the tournament. It will be back to normal for these players on Tuesday, but the Olympians will hope to carry their success to the Stars now that they are back with their NHL club.

Loui Eriksson (Sweden) and Karlis Skrastins (Latvia) were back on the ice  for practice Monday, after returning home from Vancouver. Jere Lehtinen and Brenden Morrow who played in the medal games over the weekend will return to Dallas on Tuesday morning to get a short practice in with the Stars.

Dallas Stars Head Coach Marc Crawford was pleased with the tournament and was happy that overall there were very few injuries during the games, “I know everybody would have loved to have won a medal like the Canadians, the Americans and the Finns did, but all-in-all, most teams came out of it relatively healthy,” Crawford said. “I don’t think there were any big injuries like we’ve seen in the past Olympics.”

It will be a weird transition for some players, such as Brenden Morrow and Drew Doughty who were teammates for Canada for two weeks. They must now turn around and fight for a playoff spot against each other on Tuesday night.

Loui Eriksson, who represented Sweden in the Olympics, will also be facing a teammate in Nicklas Backstrom, the center on his line during the tournament, next Monday when the Stars travel to Washington. “I think our line, with [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Daniel] Alfredsson, did real well,” Eriksson said. “We had a lot of chances and we created a lot when we were on the ice. It felt good when I was out there.”

Eriksson had a strong tournament with three goals and an assist in four games but his team failed to qualify for a medal, which was disappointing for the defending gold medal winners from 2006. “I think on the positive side, he’s shown that he’s amongst the elite players in the world now,” Marc Crawford said. “A lot of people thought that maybe he was the best player that the Swedes had in the tournament.”

Although Latvia did not record a win in the tournament, Skrastins, the team’s captain, played well for his home country, leading the club in time on ice with over 21 minutes per game. “Karlis Skrastins comes back knowing that the Latvians showed themselves real well,” Crawford said. “They almost knocked off the Czechs, so for our Olympians, they all had a very positive experience.”

The Stars are hoping that Eriksson, Lehtinen, Morrow and Skrastins can build on their success in the Olympics as Dallas battles for a playoff spot. The Dallas Stars have 16 games in the month of March and will need to keep up the momentum that they built entering the two-week Olympic break.

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