After traveling Monday and getting Tuesday off, the Dallas Stars were back on the ice for practice Wednesday morning in Frisco. Among the players on the ice were injured defensemen Kris Russell and Jason Demers.
“I feel good,” Russell said. “We’re going to discuss what’s going to happen the next few games, but today was a good day. I felt good.”
Russell has missed the past seven games with a foot injury, but Stars coach Lindy Ruff said the defenseman appears ready to return to the lineup for Thursday’s game against Colorado.
“There’s a good chance that Russell will play tomorrow,” Ruff said. “We think he is ready and out of harm’s way.”
Demers, who has been out since suffering a shoulder injury on Mar. 8, skated in a red no-contact jersey Wednesday.
“It’s nice to see the guys, skate around and get some drills and see how the timing is off a little bit,” Demers said. “But it felt good. Really felt good and confident. It was a good first day.”
When Demers went out, the Stars said he would be evaluated in six weeks which would be around April 19th. But Demers appears to be making a quick recovery.
“He is real close,” Ruff said. “He skated in a non-contact fashion today. I think there is an opportunity to get him in by the weekend and whether we would do that, we’d have to see.”
So, does that mean Demers could be ready for game one of the playoffs next week?
“It’s a possibility,” Ruff said. “He still hasn’t gone through a full practice or any contact. He hasn’t done any of the heavy lifting yet. I know you are feeling good when you are skating and shooting, but there is still a physical side; you’ve got to pass that test, too. The intensity of a playoff game is one thing. I think you get to the last two games here, and you question what type of intensity will be inside the game, but you know where it’s going to be when you hit game one.”
Forward Tyler Seguin, who has been out since suffering a cut to his Achilles tendon on Mar. 17, has started skating.
“He’s skating in a limited fashion, I would say somewhere between the 50 and 75 percent range,” Ruff said. “There are times he pushes it, but we’re trying to be a little cautious with that, too. He’s progressing nicely, and we just hope to keep on progressing here.”
As for whether Seguin would be ready for game one of the playoffs, Ruff had this to say:
“I don’t know. It’s too early for me to even comment whether it is or not.”
Forward Patrick Eaves did not practice Wednesday. He missed most of the third period of Sunday’s game in Anaheim. Ruff said Eaves’ injury is mid-body.
“Eaves is not feeling that great today,” Ruff said. “We were hoping to see a little bit of improvement, but there hasn’t been much in his case. We’ll see what the next few days bring.”
Mattias Janmark did not practice Wednesday. He missed Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury.
“Janmark skated this morning. Those things come around pretty quick,” Ruff said.
Brett Ritchie, who has been out with a lower-body injury, didn’t practice Wednesday, but he has made some progress.
“Slow, but we are making a little bit of progress,” Ruff said. “He was on the ice in a real light skate fashion.”
With Ritchie, Janmark, Eaves and Seguin injured, the Stars were down to 11 healthy forwards, so they recalled forward Curtis McKenzie from the Texas Stars of the AHL. McKenzie practiced with the team Wednesday and skated on the fourth line with Travis Moen and Vernon Fiddler. Ruff said McKenzie will be in the lineup Thursday against Colorado.
“He’s going to play,” Ruff said. “We won’t have anybody that is available. He is in the lineup for sure for us.”
Here’s how the Stars lined up in Wednesday’s practice:
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Patrick Sharp
Valeri Nichushkin – Jason Spezza – Colton Sceviour
Antoine Roussel – Radek Faksa – Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Curtis McKenzie
Johnny Oduya – Stephen Johns
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Patrik Nemeth – Jordie Benn
Kris Russell – Jamie Oleksiak
Jason Demers (red no-contact jersey)
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.