The Stars held an optional skate in Frisco Tuesday afternoon and defenseman Brenden Dillon was among those on the ice. It was the first time Dillon has skated with his teammates since suffering a lower body injury against St. Louis on the final weekend of the regular season.
“It was awesome,” Dillon said after coming off the ice. “It was a step in the right direction, especially at a time like this where we are making a hopeful big playoff run, and the guys are doing great. Especially after last night, it’s great to get out and have a smile on your face and share things.”
Dillon was off skates for several days after the injury and has just started in the past couple days and getting into Tuesday’s practice session was significant.
“Today was a big step,” he said. “I’ve skated the last two days on my own. I guess I was the best player on the ice the last two days being on my own, but being out here with the guys today was good, getting up to the pace. It is feeling better and better.”
Dillon missed the final regular season game and has missed the first three games of the Stars’ first round playoff series against Anaheim. It’s been frustrating for Dillon to have to watch as the Stars play in their first playoff series since 2008.
“I can’t even describe it,” Dillon said. “You play an 82-game regular season and you battle hard with your teammates every day and you make it to the playoffs, the first time in six years with this group of guys, I think we have something special in here, and to not be able to play and be a spectator, it is tough.”
One of the challenges of turning Dillon from spectator to player is making sure he has had ample practice time prior to his return. He’s had just one practice, and an optional one at that.
“There’s always the next step. This is just an optional skate. The next step is getting into a full team practice. That’s half the battle of getting in,” Dillon said. “You can ride the bike all you want and run on the treadmill. There is nothing like playing a hockey game, especially an NHL hockey game. This is a step forward and I am looking forward to the future.”
And the question is the team’s skate on Wednesday morning would be comparable to a full team practice.
“I hope so. I am going to plead my case, for sure,” said Dillon. “It’s the doctors, too, that I have to prove it to. Like I said, I am feeling better and better, which is a good sign. I am taking care of what I can and controlling what I can control. Hopefully I can get in here and help my team.”
And what does Stars coach Lindy Ruff think of Dillon’s chances of getting into Wednesday’s game?
“He’s moving along. He’s getting closer for us. I think, if he keeps progressing, he has a chance here pretty soon to have an opportunity to get in for us,” Ruff said. “I think anything is a possibility. I think Game 4 is a long shot, unless he walks in my office and demands it, which I could hope could happen, but I’m not banking on it.”
Ruff talks decision to scratch Cole
Forward Erik Cole was a healthy scratch in Monday night’s game, and coach Lindy Ruff explained the move in his media briefing Tuesday afternoon.
“That was just my decision, a coach’s decision,” Ruff said. “What was behind it was – I don’t think since he’s come back from injury his play has been where I needed it to be. In fact, there was some situations that have been tough on the team. You have to make decisions about that stuff and that was a hard decision. That was just my decision.”
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