Stars center Tyler Seguin skated with the team Thursday morning in Sunrise, Florida, and he is getting closer to returning to the lineup.
“Tyler is really closing in on day-to-day for us. I would say within a week, or sooner,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said when asked about a timeline on Seguin. “It depends on how he responds to some heavy workouts today and tomorrow where he is at.”
Thursday was the first time Seguin has skated with the team since suffering a knee injury on a low hit by Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in Dallas on Feb. 13.
“It felt good being back out there, being around bodies,” Seguin said. “It’s been me and two guys the last five or six times on the ice, so it was nice to be around the guys.”
Seguin started some light skating last week and has been on the ice with Valeri Nichushkin (hip) and Travis Moen (upper body) the past several days.
“Each day was a new challenge, whether it was turning, pivoting, stopping or mental blocks or one-timers and such,” Seguin said. “It’s also something that’s gotten better pretty much every day.”
Seguin’s first day on the ice comes on the same day the Stars will be playing the Panthers and Kulikov in the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Stars said they won’t be looking for revenge against Kulikov, whom the NHL suspended four games for the hit on Seguin.
“That’s not our focus. Our focus is to win a hockey game,” Ruff said. “I am not going to even talk about that. That situation is behind us. The league dealt with it. Both teams are desperate to win a hockey game.”
“We didn’t like the hit obviously and the league dealt with it,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “[Kulikov] did his time and we are here to win a hockey game. We are not here to get revenge or hurt anyone on their hockey team. We’ve got two big points up for grabs. We came here to do business, and that’s what we are going to do.”
Stars coach Lindy Ruff did have an update on Stars defenseman Trevor Daley, who took a knee-on-knee hit from Islanders forward Matt Martin in Tuesday’s game. The original thought on Daley is it would be “weeks,” and not much has changed except there now some numbers in the mix.
“On Daley, right now it looks like two to four weeks,” Ruff said.
The NHL suspended Martin one game for the hit.
Morning skate notes
Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice this morning for the Stars, so he is expected to get the start in goal tonight for the Stars. He is coming off a strong 35-save performance in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win over the New York Islanders. He had a 37-save shutout in the Stars’ 2-0 win over Florida Feb. 13 in Dallas.
Colton Sceviour, who was a healthy scratch on Tuesday, is back in tonight. There are no healthy scratches for Thursday since the Stars currently are carrying only 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen.
With Florida goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya both out with injuries, former Stars netminder Dan Ellis will get the start tonight for the Panthers. Ellis has spent this season with San Antonio of the AHL, where he is 22-11-3 with a 2.70 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. Defenseman and team captain Willie Mitchell, who has been out the past 15 games with an upper-body injury, has been cleared to play. Florida comes into tonight’s game two points behind Boston for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Who: Dallas Stars at Florida Panthers
Where: BB&T Center
When: 6:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Colton Sceviour – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Curtis McKenzie – Shawn Horcoff – Brett Ritchie
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Tyler Seguin (knee), Trevor Daley (lower body), Travis Moen (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip)
Panthers projected lineup
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr
Jussi Jokinen - Nick Bjugstad - Brad Boyes
Brandon Pirri - Vincent Trocheck - Jimmy Hayes
Tomas Kopecky - Derek MacKenzie - Shawn Thornton
Brian Campbell - Aaron Ekblad
Willie Mitchell - Erik Gudbranson
Dmitry Kulikov - Steven Kampfer
Scratched: Scottie Upshall, Alex Petrovic
Injured: Roberto Luongo (shoulder), Al Montoya (groin), Dave Bolland (upper body)