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Jamie Benn Questionable, Trevor Daley Could Play on Trip, Valeri Nichushkin to Get Games in AHL

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Stars captain Jamie Benn did not practice Tuesday in Frisco and is questionable for Wednesday’s game in Calgary.

Benn suffered an undisclosed injury late in Monday’s 4-3 win over Buffalo at American Airlines Center.

“Jamie is a little bit of a concern,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He was hurting late in the game and he was sore today. We’ll see. He is a question mark for tomorrow.”

Stars defenseman Trevor Daley, who has been out since March 3 with a knee injury, will accompany the team on the upcoming road trip to Western Canada and could play. Daley didn’t practice Tuesday, but he did skate prior to practice.

“He skated again this morning. He did well,” Ruff said. “I think he will be a gameday skater with us tomorrow. I think he will play this trip.”

Ales Hemsky and Jason Demers didn’t take part in practice on Tuesday. It was a maintenance day for both players.

Nichushkin headed to AHL to play games

Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin is expected to head to Cedar Park later this week and could play as many as three games with the Texas Stars before returning to Dallas. Nichushkin has been out since undergoing hip surgery in November.

Texas has games Friday, Saturday and next Wednesday. Under the CBA, Nichushkin will be allowed three games/six days in the AHL.

“We’ll take it day by day,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “We’ll see how he feels after Friday’s game. If he feels good, we’ll see if he can play back-to-back. We want to be careful back-to-back. If he feels good, he can play Saturday. Then if he gets through that hurdle, they play the following Wednesday. After that, he’ll be back up here with the Dallas Stars, and if everything is good he’ll be ready to go.”

Nichushkin would be back by next Friday’s game against St. Louis. Nill said the Stars will see where Nichushkin is at that point then make a decision.

“We’ll see how he is doing and go from there,” Nill said. “It will depend on how the team is doing. Lots of things can happen over the next week. We’ll just play it by ear.”

But the good news is that Nichushkin is on the verge of playing games a little more than four months after undergoing surgery on the hip, which is about right on schedule.

“Talking to Val, I think he is very excited,” Nill said. “He’s a 20-year-old, and this is his passion and life. It’s hard to sit and watch games. We’re in a battle for the playoffs, and he’s got to sit and watch every night. He’d like to be a part of that. It’s been hard on him. He’s very excited. As an organization, he’s someone we plan on building our team around in the future. He’s a big part of that. We’ve missed him all year.”

Road trip

The Stars hit the road for a three games in Western Canada. They play at Calgary (Wednesday), Edmonton (Friday) and Vancouver (Saturday). It’s a huge trip for the Stars who are eight points out of the final playoff spot with nine games remaining. They’ve won six of seven and eight of ten, but the teams they are chasing for the final two wild-card spots – Winnipeg and Minnesota -- keep winning as well.

“You take it one game at a time,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “A lot of crazy stuff happens in hockey. Right now, every team is winning including ourselves. But at some point, somebody is going to start losing and we have to take care of our part, which is just winning games. Not everybody is going to keep winning. I’ve done the math on that. You can ask Boston. You can ask Ottawa. Nobody would have put Ottawa in the picture a month ago. We’ve got a little bit less than that to still put ourselves in the picture and we’ll take it one game at a time.”

Here’s a sign of how tough it has been to gain ground for the Stars. They have gone 8-2-0 in their past ten games and have gained just one point on the final playoff spot in the West.

“We’ve gone on a pretty good run here, but we’ve had a tough time making up ground. Given the situation here, we really feel like we are going to have to win out,” said center Shawn Horcoff. “If we win out then 98 [points) is going to be enough to get in. You have to believe that. Somebody is going to have to slow down. That’s kind of what we are hoping for.”

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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