The Dallas Stars are getting healthy as they hit the road for games against the Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals this week.
“[Patrick] Eaves and [Travis] Moen are both ready to play,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ve got two more healthy bodies.”
Based on Monday’s practice, it appears that Eaves could be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game at Buffalo. Eaves has missed 15 games with a lower-body injury.
“I have been ready for a little bit here, so I am excited to get back in,” Eaves said. “It’s not fun at all, but I worked hard to get back. I am ready to go.”
Eaves was on the second line in Monday’s practice, skating on the right wing with center Jason Spezza and left wing Mattias Janmark.
“They are special players,” Eaves said. “Spezz and I have played together in the past. Janny and I got a little time together in the preseason. I am really excited. They are fun to play with.”
Ruff is excited to have Eaves back. The veteran forward brings a lot of versatility to the lineup.
“He’s got one of the best shots of anybody on the team. He’s been a guy we’ve used on the power play, and there’s an opportunity for him to get on that second unit,” Ruff said. “For me, he can play anywhere. He’s a good fit wherever I want to put him, left or right, power play or penalty killing.”
Moen has missed 14 games with an upper-body injury. He practiced on the fifth line with Curtis McKenzie and various centers.
“Besides the injuries, he’s done a good job being that physical guy,” Ruff said of Moen. “He’s played on the fourth line and done some penalty killing. When he’s been in the lineup, we’ve been a good team.”
With Moen and Eaves ready to go, the Stars sent forward Radek Faksa back to the AHL on Sunday. Faksa played well in his first call-up to the NHL, registering one goal, one assist and a plus-two rating in 14 games. He won 61 of 120 faceoffs (50.8 percent).
“Faksa did a real nice job for us while he was here,” Ruff said. “Now, he’s got to go down and keep playing, keep playing big minutes and keep developing.”
Also heading to Texas of the AHL is McKenzie, who has been out since the middle of October with a hip injury. McKenzie was called up last month after the injury to Eaves. He suffered the hip injury in his first game of his stint with Dallas after being slammed into the boards by Tampa Bay’s Nikita Nesterov. McKenzie was reassigned to Texas Monday afternoon.
The Stars open their two-game road trip in Buffalo on Tuesday. The Sabres are playing well. They are on a 5-1-1 run and have climbed to 8-8-1 on the season.
“Buffalo has the best record in the Atlantic Division over the last ten games, and they’ve played some really good hockey,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “They’ve got some really good players up front. They’ve got the kid [Jack] Eichel, who I think is going to be a tremendous player. He’s young, and he’s playing at an elite level with elite players. There’s good structure to their game. Right now, they are in every game and not giving up a lot.”
Ruff played 608 games for the Sabres and then coached the team for another 1,165 games. This will be Ruff’s third time back in Buffalo facing his old team as head coach of the Dallas Stars.
“It’s special. It won’t be anything like going back the first time. That parade is over,” Ruff said. “It’s nice. I’ve got a lot of good friends there. It was a great place to play, and it was a great place to coach. But it’s nothing like going back the first time. Now, it’s business.”
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Sharp
Mattias Janmark – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Valeri Nichushkin
Colton Sceviour- Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Curtis McKenzie – (various centers) – Travis Moen
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jordie Benn/Jamie Oleksiak
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.