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Stars prepare for early start

National broadcast has Stars-Bruins dropping the puck at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The Dallas Stars continue their homestand Sunday against the Boston Bruins, and it will be an early start. An 11:30 a.m. start for the national broadcast on NBC. Stars coach Lindy Ruff doesn't remember being behind the bench for one that early.

"I don't know if I've coached in one in my lifetime," Ruff said. "I think the earliest has been noon. So 11:30 a.m. is a special start time."

It's the same for center Jason Spezza, at least at the NHL level. He does remember playing a 10:00 a.m. game at Philadelphia in the minors.

"It was a kids' game," Spezza said. "I remember because they put SpongeBob on the big screen and the place went bananas every time they did it. We were wondering what the heck is going on here."

Sunday's early start will be a little different routine for the players, who usually hit the ice at 10:15 a.m. for a morning skate for evening home games and may be leaving the AAC around the time Sunday's game is scheduled to start.  

"Sleep is important. It's more important than my routine," Spezza said. "I am usually at the rink three hours before game time, but I won't do that tomorrow. I will try to sleep as much as I can. Normally I go home and take a nap. I won't do that tomorrow. I will try to go to bed around 9:30, get up before my alarm, have a couple cups of coffee, spend some time with my kids and come to the rink."

Spezza said getting up before the alarm goes off helps in feeling more refreshed. Once at the rink, warm-ups will be a little different as well.

"Probably try to get a little more of a sweat going in warm-up," Spezza said.

"Everyone's got their own routines to get ready to play," said forward Patrick Sharp. "Personally, I just probably would warm up more and be ready to go right from the start because there's no pregame skate, there's no meal and nap in between, it's just let's get after it. Just get ready to start, whatever it takes for you to start fast and get ready."

Ruff said his approach will be the same as Friday's game with the Stars coming off the five-day bye week. He'll want to keep the shifts short. And if he senses a player isn't up and running he'll try to give him a jolt.

"If it looks like we've got some guys that are struggling or sleepy, it might be that I give them a little verbal blast and wake them up," Ruff said.

That's because a good start will be key in Sunday's game.

"I guess the biggest thing for the team is usually whoever starts the quickest wins the game," said Sharp. "Sometimes you can sleepwalk your way through a period and find yourself in trouble. It's no different than any other game, just get yourself ready to play however that is."

"If you can get a step ahead because the other team seems slow, that is important," Ruff said. "If you are starting slow, you don't come out of that very easily."

Oduya, Cracknell updates

*Defenseman Johnny Oduya, who has missed the past 15 games with an ankle injury, continues to practice. His status for Sunday's game against the Bruins is still to be determined.

"We'll see," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. The plan was to get him through today and have him available. How things go here post-practice makes him an option."

*Adam Cracknell, who is out with a lower-body injury, hit the ice for a skate after Saturday morning's practice. It was his first time on the ice since being injured in the Feb. 18 game against Tampa Bay.

"It's actually surprising for me that he is back out there that soon," Ruff said. "It's very promising that he is ahead of schedule. This is looking like a 2-3-week range versus that original assessment of 3-6 weeks."

Stars recall Remi Elie from the AHL

The Stars recalled left wing Remi Elie from the Texas Stars of the AHL Saturday afternoon. Elie is tied for fourth on Texas in scoring with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 49 games. The second-round pick (40th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft, is in his second pro year and has recorded 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) in 113 games with Texas.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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