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Eaves Goes Through Full Practice, Could be Ready to Play Sunday

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars forward Patrick Eaves, who has missed seven games with a concussion, went through a full practice in Frisco on Saturday and appears ready to return to the lineup.

“He could be available tomorrow, yeah,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “Today was his first practice, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. If he feels he is ready we’ll probably get him in.”

If Eaves does play Sunday against Anaheim, it will be his first game since Feb. 13 when he was hit in the head by a puck. Eaves took part in the morning skate on Friday and Saturday was his first full practice with the team.

“Ready to go. Ready to get going. Get back in and hopefully help out,” Eaves said. “Clear head, no symptoms. I have my energy back, and I am in good shape. I got back out with the guys today, and I feel good.”

Eaves, who missed 21 games earlier this season with a broken bone in his foot, has been an effective player when in the lineup this season. He has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 28 games.

Ruff talks goaltending

Stars coach Lindy Ruff called out goaltender Kari Lehtonen after Friday’s 5-4 shootout loss to Colorado on Friday night.

“The goaltending doesn’t match the effort of the team right now. You need goaltending. It’s as simple as that,” Ruff said after Friday’s loss in which Lehtonen allowed four goals on 20 shots in regulation.

Ruff said he and Lehtonen talked Saturday.

“My opinion of the game hasn’t changed,” Ruff said. “We’ll put it behind us and move on. We’ve got to have better goaltending. It’s that simple for me.”

Asked about how he pushes those buttons to get Lehtonen going, Ruff offered this.

“There’s some mental toughness he has to battle through,” Ruff said. “For me, it started in training camp and it’s been there most of the year, where it has been hot and cold. We need him to be hot.

“I saw the first one go in (Friday night) and I thought there could be trouble. My opinion is that when one like that goes in, he can’t let go of that. He can’t let go of it, to me. I think he spends too much time dwelling on that goal or that previous goal, depending on what game or what situation we are in.”

Schlemko on waivers

The Stars placed defenseman David Schlemko on waivers Saturday. That’s a sign that defenseman Patrik Nemeth could be ready to return from the AHL soon.

“That’s the plan, eventually. There is no date yet,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of Nemeth returning. “He is still rounding off his game down there, which I think has been a little bit up and down from what we’ve heard.”

The Stars sent Nemeth to Texas of the AHL last week to get some playing time. Nemeth, who had been out since October due to an arm laceration, has played four games in the AHL and is expected to play another one Saturday night.

The Stars claimed Schlemko off waivers from Arizona in early January. But Schlemko played in only five games for Dallas and has been a healthy scratch in the past 13 contests.

Seguin hits the ice; Nichushkin could be ready to play in mid-March

Stars forward Tyler Seguin, who has been out since Feb. 13 with a knee injury, hit the ice for some light skating after Saturday’s practice. It was the second day on the ice for Seguin, who skated Friday as well. There is no definitive timetable for his return.

“With Tyler, it’s how quick it comes around,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He’ll play when he’s ready. We are going to make sure of that.”

Also on the ice after practice was forward Valeri Nichushkin, who has been out since undergoing hip surgery in November. The Stars have an idea when Nichushkin could return.

“I think Val has a date, somewhere mid-March,” Ruff said. “I think he is going to have to go play (in the AHL). He just won’t play here right off the bat.”

Forward Travis Moen, who has missed the past five games with an upper-body injury, skated after practice as well. It doesn’t appear he is close to returning.

“He’s still struggling,” Ruff said. “He’s got the type of injury that could be three, four days or it could be six weeks.”

Practice notes

*Defenseman Jordie Benn did not practice Saturday. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said it was a maintenance day for Benn, who worked out off the ice.

*Lines in practice were similar to those at the end of Friday night’s game. Jason Spezza centered Jamie Benn and Erik Cole. Cody Eakin was back on a line with Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt. Vernon Fiddler centered Curtis McKenzie and Ales Hemsky. Colton Sceviour, Shawn Horcoff, Brett Ritchie and Patrick Eaves were all on the fourth line.

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.

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