The Dallas Stars held an optional practice Friday, and forward Tyler Seguin was among those taking part. Seguin, who has been out since suffering a cut to his Achilles tendon on Mar. 17, said he feels ready to go as the Stars prepared to take on Minnesota Saturday in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
“I’ve felt ready the last couple days,” Seguin said. “It’s been about getting that conditioning up a bit. Yesterday was a pretty good skate. Today I went out there and just tried to feel good, and I did. I am happy about that.”
Seguin missed the final ten games of the regular season and Thursday’s playoff opener, a 4-0 win for the Stars. He started skating on his own last week and went through three full practices earlier this week and then today’s optional skate.
“I’ve worked hard and prepared to get back into the lineup as much as I can, and I feel pretty ready,” Seguin said. “I am excited to hopefully get back in the lineup and help out my teammates, too.”
Although Seguin feels ready, it’s not a given that he will return Saturday. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said that decision was still up in the air.
“That’s a conversation [Tyler] and I will have today, see where he is after the workout today,” Ruff said. “If he’s good, there is a good chance we will put him in.”
If Seguin does return, Ruff said he will have a tough call on which forward comes out of the lineup.
“[Stars GM Jim Nill] and I had a discussion this morning. We have a good problem,” Ruff said. “There are teams that are pretty banged up and trying to put people in. We’ve got ourselves healthy and have to take somebody out, and somebody out that is playing well if we choose to put Tyler in tomorrow.”
Stars forward Brett Ritchie practiced for the first time Friday since going out with a lower-body injury. Ritchie missed the final five games of the regular season with the injury.
“He’s looked really good,” Ruff said. “He’s been skating on his own. He’ll skate with us as a team tomorrow. He’s going to need a good period of probably a week to 10 days of practice time to get back up and rolling again.”
Ruff said no decision has been made on if Ritchie will stay with Dallas or head back to the AHL once he is healthy.
Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is on a nice roll. Lehtonen has won seven of his past eight starts – including both regular season and playoffs – posting a 1.76 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and two shutouts. He posted a 22-save shutout in Thursday’s Game 1 win over Minnesota.
"It's cool [to get the shutout], but most important thing is to get that first win, and now we just go from here,” Lehtonen said. “Go for game number two.”
The Wild could be getting one of their injured forwards back. Erik Haula, who has been out with a lower-body injury, practiced Friday afternoon at American Airlines Center.
“It’s frustrating to watch up top,” Haula said. “You want to be out there and helping your teammates and you can’t. It is what it is. I’m ready to go. I’m excited.”
Wild coach John Torchetti said Haula will be a game-day decision.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Torchetti said. “That would be a big help for us. I think it’ll solidify that line with [Jason Pominville]. We haven’t had that flow of the checking mentality, and we want to get back to that. They had a good checking line against one of our lines last night, and we got to do a better job in that matchup too.”
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk did not practice Friday. Torchetti said it was a maintenance day for Dubnyk.
Torchetti juggled his lines in Fridays’ practice as the Wild look for ways to generate some offense. They had few chances in Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the Stars in Game 1.
“Well, we haven’t had any offense, so hopefully we’ll take a look at maybe [Charlie Coyle] at center. We’ll see how that looks and go from there,” Torchetti said. “We got to get pucks deep, got to get pucks deep in the neutral zone. 18-plus turnovers, that’s everything.”
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.