DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 19: Brenden Morrow #10 of the Dallas Stars celebrates a goal against the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center on December 19, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
With the Dallas Stars riding a 8-0-1 run over the past three weeks and climbing into first place in the Pacific Division, more good news is on its way. Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow will return to the ice tonight against the Anaheim Ducks after missing 18 games with a neck/back injury that has apparently been ailing him for that last year and a half. Morrow looked confident and loose on the ice during morning skate; afterwords, coach Glen Gulutzan confirmed that Morrow is good to go tonight.
"It felt pretty good this morning," said Morrow. "Unless the wife makes me some pancakes and I have some trouble getting up this afternoon, I should be good to go."
The Stars participated in a spirited skate that focused on odd-man rushes and tip drills, with Morrow participating in all the drills and looking like his old self. Glen Gulutzan said after the skate that Morrow would be playing with Jamie Benn on the second line and that his minutes will be limited. Morrow won't be playing on the penalty kill and should see no more than 12-14 minutes.
Of course, that all depends on how Morrow plays. If he plays as well as he says he feels then there's a chance Morrow forces the coaches to put him out there more. One thing is for certain, the Dallas Stars locker room had a different, somewhat electric feel to it with Morrow coming back for the game tonight.
Joining Morrow and Benn on that second line will be Steve Ott. More after the jump.
Steve Ott, who missed a game after his back tightened up on him on while waiting in Dallas traffic before the San Jose game, said he felt fine and should be good to go tonight. Gulutzan confirmed Ott's return and said that Morrow, Benn and Ott will play together on that second line.
The Stars didn't skate any line combinations this morning but judging by the talk in the locker room, this is what we're guessing lines to be:
Eriksson - Ribeiro - Ryder
Morrow - Benn - Ott
Nystrom - Fiddler-Dvorak
Vincour - Wandell - Burish
Gulutzan said that Toby Petersen is going to be a scratch tonight but that he'll skate 13 forwards during warm ups and then make a decision on the other scratch after that. So that could lead to a decision between Dowell, Garbutt or Vincour and right now it seems that Vincour is likely to get the nod on the fourth line. It's interesting to see what happens with the fourth line but what is clear is that Gulutzan is very happy with Vincour's play the past couple of games.
There's also the fact that you have a back to back coming this week and having too many fresh legs to churn the roster is certainly not a bad problem to have.
For defense, Shelden Souray remains out -- which means that Adam Pardy slides back in after 8 games out. Pardy hasn't played since the Montreal game but has played well when he has been on the ice, after an extremely rocky start to his career here in Dallas.
Defensive pairs should look like this;
Goligoski - Robidas
Fistric - Daley
Pardy - Larsen
There was a lot of talk about Pardy after morning skate and how he'll play after eight games off and Gulutzan was very high on the progress he's made since coming to Dallas. Gulutzan referenced a one-on-one meeting between himself and Pardy where it became clear that Pardy was well aware of his issues and admitted that he must play better. Gulutzan said it's not always that way with players and it was good to see Pardy ready and willing to improve after a rough season so far.
The players all talked about how good it was to come home from the road trip and see a big, rowdy crowd at American Airlines Center. With the Stars making a big push for the playoffs now and sitting in first in the division, there's hope that momentum continues to build and more fans continue to come out to cheer on the team.
"It's definitely been exciting," said Mark Fistric. "The fans are on their feet cheering and it reminds back when we made our playoff run [back in 2008]. It's definitely exciting and it's such a boost when you come home and it's full of excited people, cheering us on."
Word is that tonight's game is going to be close to sold out, especially considering the fact the Stars are participating in a Military Appreciation Night. From Dallas Stars PR:
Lora Farris, executive director of the Dallas Stars Foundation Stars states: "The Dallas Stars Organization is proud to participate in honoring Specialist Bazavilvazo at the March 10 game. We are grateful to him for his service and the sacrifice he has made for our country. This presentation is a small token of our appreciation to him and all the service men and women around the world."