Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who has missed the last three games with a lower body injury, went through a full practice in Frisco Friday morning. Lehtonen said he is making a lot of progress, but he is still not ready to play.
“It was a huge leap forward,” Lehtonen said. “It was good to get shots that I didn’t know where they were going. The only thing is I am not very fast right now. I can’t make the fast stretches, can’t make the fast stretches and fast pushes. That’s something that hopefully comes the next couple days.”
Lehtonen was injured a week ago in the Stars 4-1 victory at Winnipeg while stretching for a shot. He’s eligible to come off injured reserve in time for this weekend’s games at Los Angeles (Saturday) and at Anaheim (Sunday), but it seems unlikely he’ll be ready.
“Tomorrow comes a little too fast because I wasn’t able to be myself on the ice today. It was a good step forward, but not there yet,” Lehtonen said. “Hopefully tomorrow we can get better again and then we can see. We don’t have to decide anything right now.”
Stars coach Lindy Ruff saw Lehtonen’s practice session on Friday as a positive, but indicated the Stars’ No. 1 goaltender might not be ready to play this weekend.
“I think any time he’s out there practicing it’s a good sign,” Ruff said. “I didn’t expect him coming in and practicing today, but he’s feeling pretty good. In my eyes, if we can get by the weekend, he should be ready to play.”
That means the next opportunity for Lehtonen to return would be when the Stars return home and play Calgary on Thursday.
And that would mean that Dan Ellis likely will make his fourth straight start when the Stars take on the Kings Saturday night. With the Stars playing Sunday at 5 p.m. Pacific Time against the Ducks, there’s the possibility the Stars could need Jack Campbell to take a turn in net and make his NHL debut on the second night of a back-to-back.
“There’s a possibility with that quick turnaround we may look to Jack,” Ruff said.
“It seems like there are no more easy games in this league any more. There are no nights off. When I first started there were three or four teams where there was a lot of separation. Now, there is so much parity that there is just not an easy game. Now with the systems everyone plays, there is a lot of backchecking, everyone works hard. With Los Angeles and Anaheim, you got two bigger and physical teams and it’s going to be a good test for us again.”
-Stars forward Shawn Horcoff on this weekend’s back-to-back road games in California
Stars practice lineup
Here’s the lineup the Stars rolled out in practice today. Forward Erik Cole was not on the ice. He had a maintenance day.
Jamie Benn -Tyler Seguin - Rich Peverley
Ray Whitney - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel - Shawn Horcoff - Valeri Nichushkin
Lane MacDermid - Vernon Fiddler - Ryan Garbutt
Alex Goligoski - Sergei Gonchar
Brenden Dillon - Stephane Robidas
Trevor Daley - Jordie Benn
Kari Lehtonen (injured)