The Dallas Stars practiced at American Airlines Center Monday morning. It was a chance to break in the ice and spend a little more time with the new boards and glass at the AAC.
“We want to make sure the ice is in good condition. When you get a couple of real good skates on it, it helps,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We wanted to get used to the boards a little bit.”
The new boards and glass put a premium on player safety, which has become a priority for the NHL in recent years. The new system is more flexible than the old one, providing better shock absorption.
“It’s got to be the safest set of boards on the planet,” said Cody Bateman of AAC ice operations. “The safety features are far beyond anything you can imagine. It’s crazy how much they flex and move.”
The way the new boards are designed, they are livelier than the old ones as well.
“The way they designed the bottom of the dashers, there is not a dead spot. They are hot. The pucks are going to fly and motor around there,” said Bateman. “It’s rocket fire. With our speedy team, I thought it was the best thing to do.”
Players agreed that there is a difference, and that means there will be some adjustments.
“The boards are as lively as any rink I have ever played in,” said forward Shawn Horcoff. “It’s going to take a little time to adjust, which is why we are down here this week. The glass is a little dead, which is nice. It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to change some things – dump ins, rims, chip outs on the boards. It’s going to take a little bit of getting used to.”
*Forward Erik Cole did not practice with the team today, but he did skate with assistant coaches Curt Fraser and James Patrick after practice.
“Erik was late for practice, so we are going to skate him afterwards,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
*Forward Valeri Nichushkin, who sat out Saturday’s scrimmage in Cedar Park, practiced Monday but still wasn’t 100 percent.
“I thought he looked OK,” Ruff said. “We’ve got four or five guys who aren’t feeling well right now. Val has been struggling with a little bit of sickness. We didn’t know if he was going to practice and halfway through he said he still didn’t feel that well. We just have to get him to push through.”
*With Nichushkin still under the weather, Colton Sceviour skated on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Patrick Eaves took Cole’s spot on the line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky. Ruff said he has options when it comes to moving people into the top six.
“Eaves is a veteran guy who can play a little bit there,” Ruff said. “Colton Sceviour has gained some ground and played very well at times for us. He’s got that gift around the net that you would like to take that look. It’s going to be different personnel in that slot. You’re not going to see the same guy there the whole year. Val is going to get his time there. Sceviour will get some time. If somebody gets hot, they’ll stay for good periods of time.”
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Colton Sceviour
Patrick Eaves – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Brenden Dillon – Jordie Benn
Patrik Nemeth – Kevin Connauton
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.