Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon, who missed the final regular season game due to a lower body injury, is questionable for Game 1 of the playoffs.
Dillon did not practice Tuesday in Anaheim and Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the team will see where Dillon is prior to Wednesday’s first game of the series against the Anaheim Ducks.
“He’s a game-time decision,” Ruff said. “We kept him off (the ice) again today.”
If Dillon can’t go on Wednesday, Ruff will turn to either Kevin Connauton or Aaron Rome.
“Romer offers a seasoned veteran that has been through it,” Ruff said. “He knows how to play the game, knows how to stay inside. He plays a physical game. He’s a good defender and good penalty killer. Kevin offers a little bit of an offensive flair. He’s a guy that uses his legs to transport the puck a lot of times. He’s an excellent skater. He has an excellent shot. One is more on the defending and one is more on th offensive side.”
The Stars should get forward Ray Whitney back for Wednesday’s game. Whitney, who missed the final five games of the regular season with a lower body injury, skated on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Alex Chiasson in Tuesday’s practice. Whitney’s return could be a boost, especially on the power play.
“We missed his creativeness and sometimes just his puck patience to make plays,” said Ruff.
Stars, Robidas to square off
Wednesday’s playoff opener will pit the Stars against former Star Stephane Robidas for the first time since he was traded to the Ducks just prior to the NHL trade deadline. Robidas played 704 career games with the Stars.
“I am sure it will be weird to see him over there in their jersey with a different number,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. “It won’t seem weird after a while, once the games have started. It will be the last thing we’ll be thinking about.”
The Stars traded Robidas to the Ducks for a conditional fourth-round pick back in March. Robidas registered five points (one goal, four assists) and averaged 20:37 of ice time in 14 regular season games with Anaheim.
“I am just excited to be in the playoffs. It’s been five years and I’ve been waiting for that moment for a long time,” said Robidas. “When I got traded I knew I was going to be in the playoffs, but I didn’t know who we’d be facing. It’s my old team, but it’s not about me it is about the Ducks and we’re facing the Stars. It’s going to be a tough series. I am very excited to be a part of this team and I am very anxious to get going.”
Stars hope to get boost from stretch run
The Dallas Stars come into the playoffs with 13 players on the roster having never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the hope is the stretch run, which was a lot like the playoffs, provided some good preparation.
“We’ve been in the playoffs the last month and I think that is going to help us down the road,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “It’s been a playoff environment and we didn’t back into anything. Every night was a battle. We had to go into some rinks in St. Louis and Washington where we had to win games and we did it. And they did it all year. Just when you thought the team might slip off the cliff and never be seen again, we always bounced back and that is a good sign.”
“Jim and I talked that this might be the best thing for us,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We faced extreme pressure in every game, knowing every game would dictate whether we were going to be in or we were going to be out. We were in, and then we were out. Then we got behind in games and we were out, but we had games in hand and you’ve got to win the games in hand. All that is good because you get to watch how players react. I would like to have it (clinching a playoff spot) done sooner, but it was good. It makes you a better team.”
Stars practice lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Erik Cole – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Ray Whitney – Shawn Horcoff – Alex Chiasson
Defense pairs were mixed with Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley, Patrik Nemeth, Jordie Benn, Kevin Connauton, Sergei Gonchar and Aaron Rome.
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.