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Dillon Practices, Questionable for Monday

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon, who missed yesterday’s game vs. Tampa Bay with a lower body injury, practiced this morning in Frisco. Whether he can play Monday against Buffalo is still up in the air.

“It’s a good sign, but we’ll see where he is tomorrow,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We’ll see how post-practice treatment goes and see where he is at.”

Dillon was among the dozen players who took part in Sunday’s optional practice. He said there’s been much improvement the past couple days.

“It feels pretty good today,” he said. “I just want to take a couple days and see if things settle down. It kind of sucks when you have to watch hockey games, but at the end of the day it is what it is.”

Dillon was injured in the second period of Thursday’s game against Carolina, but played through the injury and finished the game.

“I was coming around the net and I think it was Jordan Staal trailing from behind, and he kind of fell on me awkwardly. I felt kind of a pinch. It was there, but it wasn’t really inhibiting at the time,” Dillon said. “I finished the game and it felt pretty good, but after the fact it just started to tighten up. It didn’t feel so good the next day either.”

It’s the first game Dillon has missed this season. He didn’t miss a last game last season, playing in all 48 during the lockout shortened campaign.

Ellis to get one of the next two games

With the Stars playing back-to-back games versus Buffalo (Monday) and at Columbus (Tuesday), backup goaltender Dan Ellis will start one of the two games.

“Dan is going to play,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I am not announcing which one, but Dan is playing.”

Monday’s game kicks off a stretch where the Stars will play 15 games in 27 days, including four sets of back-to-backs. That means Ellis could see his playing time ramp up.

“They told me we are going to need you down the stretch,” Ellis said. “With the number of games we have, it’s a lot on one goalie.”

Ellis’ last start came Feb. 1, when he shutout the Ducks in Anaheim. It will a long time between starts for Ellis, but that’s the life of a backup.

“(Goaltending coach) Mike Valley does a great job of helping me to stay fresh,” said Ellis. “Helping me to feel the puck, create drills where you’re comfortable in your paint and you have some kind of rhythm and you’re seeing the puck well. Because in the end, once you start playing it is about confidence. If you feel confident in stopping the puck and where you are, you’ll catch up to the reads of the game, the pace and the energy of it. You have to create confidence and a great feel for the puck, and I think that is what Mike does.”

Peverley sits out third period vs. Tampa Bay

Stars forward Rich Peverley did not touch the ice in the third period in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay. Peverley started the game on a line with Erik Cole and Cody Eakin, but Alex Chiasson eventually took his spot. Peverley moved to a line with Ray Whitney and Shawn Horcoff. Whitney and Horcoff saw some power play time in the third and a couple of even strength shifts, but Peverley didn’t play at all.

Following Sunday’s practice, Stars coach Lindy Ruff was asked about Peverley’s lack of playing time in the third.

“We just dropped down to three lines. I thought early that Chaser was skating pretty well. The game before Chaser had five Grade A chances,” Ruff said. “I was just trying to create some momentum with three lines. I thought it was working. We were getting the Grade A chances. We really had the table leaning in our favor, but we just didn’t put the puck in the back of the net.”

Ruff on the Sabres

There’s been a lot going on with the Buffalo Sabres lately. Buffalo traded goaltender Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to St. Louis on Friday and then Pat LaFontaine, the team’s president of hockey operations, abruptly resigned on Saturday.

Ruff was asked Sunday if he had any thoughts on what has happening in Buffalo, where he coached for many years.

“I’ve got Buffalo winning their last three games and that’s all I am worried about,” Ruff said. “They beat Boston, they beat San Jose and they beat Carolina. For me, we can’t take one moment for granted because their counter attack has been tough. I just look at on ice, and that is all I am worried about.”

Optional practice Sunday

The Stars held an optional practice Sunday with a dozen players taking part. The players on the ice included goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Dan Ellis, defensemen Brenden Dillon, Stephane Robidas, Aaron Rome and Kevin Connauton and forwards Rich Peverley, Erik Cole, Ray Whitney, Shawn Horcoff, Vernon Fiddler and Cody Eakin.

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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