Stars defenseman Jason Demers, who left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury, didn’t practice Monday in Frisco. But Stars coach Lindy Ruff didn’t rule out Demers for Tuesday’s game against Ottawa at American Airlines Center.
“He’s doing better than I thought. You could even put him in as a possibility for tomorrow, which is surprising,” Ruff said after Monday’s practice. “We hope that he keeps progressing and that this isn’t much more than one or two games.”
Demers seemed to be walking fine as he left the locker room area to head upstairs and take over the team’s Twitter account early Monday afternoon.
“We’ll see,” he said when asked if he could play Tuesday.
Defenseman Jordie Benn, who sat out Saturdays’ game due to illness, practiced Monday. He skated on the second pair with Johnny Oduya. Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka skated as the third pair.
If everybody is healthy, Ruff will have a tough decision with the team’s defensemen considering how well Oleksiak played filling in for Benn Saturday night. Oleksiak gave the team a spark with a big fight and drew a key penalty that led to a power-play goal that helped the Stars extend their lead in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Buffalo.
“It’s a good problem. I’ve always said go in and play well and make the decision tough on me. I like the fact that he went in and was a difference maker,” Ruff said of Oleksiak. “He might have been the biggest difference-maker on the back end for us, which is what you look for. If he’s prepared and is working hard, when he gets his opportunity you want him to take advantage of it.”
The Stars will enter Tuesday’s game on a roll. Their 17-4-0 record is tops in the NHL. They’ve won eight of their past nine games in putting together the best 21-game start in franchise history.
“Winning breeds winning a little bit,” said Stars center Jason Spezza. “You start getting success you start believing in what you are doing. We are a product of that right now.”
So, has Spezza noticed any more buzz about the Stars around town?
“My kids watch a few more games,” Spezza said with a laugh. “My kids wear their jerseys to school, so maybe that means we’re doing well.”
*The Stars have allowed five goals over the past four games and now rank seventh in the league in goals against (2.38 per game).
*Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi have stopped 101 of 106 shots over the past four games, lifting the Stars’ team save percentage to .920, which is tied for seventh in the league.
*The Stars have outscored the opposition 31-17 in third periods this season. Their 31 goals are tops in the NHL. Their plus-14 goal differential is second in the league. Only Montreal’s plus-15 (28-13) is better.
The Stars will take on Jason Spezza’s former team, the Ottawa Senators, Tuesday at American Airlines Center. The Senators are 10-5-5 on the season, ranking fourth in the Eastern Conference in points. They’ve won two straight, shutting out both Columbus and Philadelphia.
“We know they have shut out the opposition the last two games. They’ve been working hard to clean up their defensive woes which were coming before that,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
“We are catching a team that is going the right way the last couple games. We are going to concentrate on playing our game and see what happens.”
Here’s how the Stars lined up in Monday’s practice.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Sharp
Mattias Janmark – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Valeri Nichushkin
Colton Sceviour/Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jordie Benn
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jamie Oleksiak
Not skating: Jason Demers (lower body)
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.