Jamie Benn Returns to Practice; Jaromir Jagr Day-to-Day with Back Issue

Ronald Martinez

Newsy Friday: Jamie Benn returns to practice. Jagr is day-to-day with a back issue. Aaron Rome will play Saturday, as will Cristopher Nilstorp in goal.

Jamie Benn has re-entered the fold.

Though his work visa and immigration issues are not yet settled, and may not be until Monday, Jamie Benn was on the ice in Frisco this morning, joining his teammates at long last 19 days after the lockout ended.
In case you've been under a rock, Benn and the Stars came to an agreement on a 5-year, $26.25 million deal yesterday afternoon.

With Benn unable to play Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues, Glen Gulutzan must prepare his club for another hellacious battle while keeping the other eye on Monday night and where Benn might play. Gulutzan said previously, at the onset of camp, that Benn would have to earn the minutes he gets upon returning.

Joe Nieuwendyk told media in the last 24 hours that he sees the inclination many will have toward Jagr and Benn together, but that Ray Whitney could help facilitate for Jamie Benn nicely on a line with Michael Ryder, and that seems like the most likely place for him in the short term, preserving the budding chemistry of Loui Eriksson, Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr.

That would theoretically re-unite Cody Eakin with Reilly Smith and Ryan Garbutt, or possibly Tomas Vincour who is now up with the team, allowing Gulutzan to roll four lines more evenly in back to back play Monday and Tuesday.

That's all conjecture, but conjecture is where we are right now.

Eriksson-Roy-Jagr
Whitney-Benn-Ryder
Morrow-Fiddler-Nystrom
Garbutt-Eakin-Smith

...is something we could see Monday night.

Cody Eakin should get one more chance Saturday night to make a case for his even strength minutes to increase. He's done nothing but impress since being placed with Whitney and Ryder in Detroit.

Jaromir Jagr

After leaving last night's game early with an apparent injury Jaromir Jagr worked off-ice today, and is said to be "day to day" by Mark Stepneski and Mike Heika with a back issue. (Better than a groin?). Glen Gulutzan remarked in post-game comments last night that he didn't think it was serious.

If the Stars are without Jagr and Benn on Saturday night then the situation becomes a little more interesting. Might Reilly Smith move up to the second line, or Tomas Vincour? (Update: Mike Heika is saying Vincour will be in if Jagr doesn't play and that Smith is likely to take the second-line winger spot.)

Aaron Rome will also play his first game Saturday.

Nilstorp in goal

Kari Lehtonen was not on the ice today. If anyone has earned a day off it's him after stopping 38 of 41 shots last night against the Chicago Blackhawks, but word came down after practice that Cristopher Nilstorp will make his second start for Dallas in net against the Blues Saturday night.

Glen Gulutzan quotes on that are forthcoming, we'll assume, and we'll update this post when news is available. Rest for an overworked Kari Lehtonen, or is there an injury concern?

Stay tuned.

Afternoon update

Mike Heika had this to say about the goalie decision.

The decision to play Nilstorp can be debated, with Kari Lehtonen looking spectacular in three starts so far. However, Lehtonen has faced a league-high 121 shots on goal (posting a .939 save percentage), and Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said he did not want his No. 1 goalie to get worn out.

So you can all let out that breath you were subconsciously holding.

In the article, Heika also says Jagr is "40-60" to play against the Blues and more likely to play Monday against the Blue Jackets.

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