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Thinking Positive

by Dallas Stars Staff / Dallas Stars

The Stars held their last home practice prior to the Olympic Break on Monday, as the team prepares for a three-game road trip to close out the week. Everyone knows that games are starting to run out and points are at a premium.

“(This road trip is) huge,” said Brenden Morrow. “We haven’t had much success on the road, and we’ve got a good feeling coming off a real good effort here at home. We’d like to take it on the road with us, and we’d like to hit the break feeling good about ourselves, and set up for a good push down the stretch. So, these three games are pretty key, it can set us up. If we get on a good run, who knows, we could be in the eighth spot by the time the week’s over.”

Dallas began Monday just three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

“We have kind of been stuck right around the eight to ten spot all year,” said Matt Niskanen. “I think finding that little extra to make sure we get a win streak would be important. We’ve done well bouncing back from losses this year; I think we’ve competed after a bad night and made sure we got those points the next game, but stringing a few wins together will be key, and just everyone digging in with that little extra effort and determination and playing well defensively. That’s going to be the key for us.”

Ribeiro Activated

Stars center Mike Ribeiro was activated from injured reserve and is expected to play at Chicago on Tuesday. He says he’s ready after a few practices with his teammates.

“It hasn’t been that physical in practice so I really won’t know (hoe the game will go) until after the frst period or even my first shift,” Ribeiro said. “I won’t really know until I get hit. I’ve been hurt and have played with injuries before. This one is a little different and a little freaky though. We’ll see how I feel after the game. It’s been a while. I’m sure I won’t play 20 minutes. It won’t be easy. Chicago is a tough place to play and we’re going to have to keep it simple. But I’m looking forward to getting back to playing.”

Having been down two or three centers in the last few games, Dallas coaches are happy to get another one back.

“I know he’s very excited about coming back into the fold,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “It’s been five weeks since the injury, so we feel pretty good that he’s pushed as hard as he has to get himself back into a position where he can help us as we get closer to a playoff spot.

“I think Mike (Ribeiro) will play sparingly in the first game. We’ll kind of see where he’s at. On the other side of it, we really like the way that Jamie Benn and Morrow, who he’s played with most of the year, have played. We want to keep going with Jamie Benn at center. We really think he’s playing just terrific hockey there. And that allows us to ease Ribeiro back in the lineup, which is the way we probably should bring him back. What it means is that Jere Lehtinen will move up into the spot of Ott. It will mean that Barch, Brunnstrom and Petersen are going to get a little bit of ice time, and we’ll have to utilize one of those guys from our minor league affiliate, whether it’s Wathier or Sawada, who are both wingers, to play in that other spot that’s available.”

Morrow is very happy to get Ribeiro back on the ice.
“I’m looking forward to just seeing him out on the ice, and playing on the power play, and slowing the play down,” he said. “He’s been gone a long time, and it’s tough to be gone that long, but he’s one of those guys that can really change the pace of the game.”

Injury update

Steve Ott underwent an emergency appendectomy Monday morning. “He has come out of the operation and we’re quite sure he’s OK,” said Crawford. “But he’ll be lost to the club until after the Olympic break.

Mark Fistric will have arthroscopic surgery on his knee and is also out until after the Olympic Break.

“Mark tried his knee again this morning, and it didn’t respond well, so we made the decision that he’s going to go in and have his operation to fix up his problem with his knee right away,” said Crawford. “(Fistric’s) surgery is just arthroscopic surgery, and while no surgery is minor, with this one, they’re relatively confident that he will be able to play fairly quickly.

“The good news on both accounts is that if there ever is a good time to be injured, it is when you have a 14-day break, because the rehabilitation will allow them to be options for us once we come back from the Olympic break.”

Ray Sawada and Francis Wathier were both recalled from the Texas Stars (AHL). Fistric was officially placed on injured reserve.

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