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Brad Richards, Jamie Benn Injury Update; Benn Ready, Richards Return Uncertain

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New Jersey Devils @ Dallas Stars

7:30 p.m. CDT
TV: VERSUS
Radio: KTCK The Ticket

We take a quick break from the Alex Goilgoski endless news cycle, as the Dallas Stars get ready to host the New Jersey Devils tonight on national television. Goligoski is expected to make his Dallas Stars debut tonight, we'll have much more on his impact on the team later today. In the meantime, we have some updates on some key Dallas Stars injuries as they attempt to pull out of this nosedive and move forward and attempt to compete for a playoff spot.

For those wondering, Kari Lehtonen will be in goal tonight against the Devils.

First, the bad news. Nicklas Grossman did not skate yesterday and is expected to be checked out by the doctors today. Based on the fact he still hasn't practiced since injuring his hip, I don't think we'll be seeing him on the ice tonight against New Jersey. Grossman is one of the few physical "shutdown" defensemen the Stars have and he's become perhaps the most consistent blueliner on the Stars this season. There's no doubt they are missing his presence right now and for a team struggling defensively, his return can't come soon enough.

Updates on Jamie Benn, Adam Burish and Brad Richards after the jump.

There is some good news, however. Jamie Benn, Adam Burish and Krys Barch all practiced yesterday with the team. Jamie Benn is saying that he is ready to go and prepared to play tonight, but right now the team is still being cautious will all three players. While Burish and Benn did practice, Marc Crawford said they'll wait to make a decision today after the doctors have cleared them to play. Per ESPN Dallas:

"We're going to have to check with our medical people to see if they are going to get cleared," said Stars coach Marc Crawford. "Nobody has been cleared to play yet. They've been cleared to practice and it was nice to see them out there. You could see we had a little bit more life, a little more juice, a little bit more energy. "

"I think there is a chance some of them may play, but we won't know until we hear from the doctors," Crawford said. "They all think that they're ready, but they don't have the call on this."

"You could see we had a little bit more life, a little more juice, a little bit more energy."

This is the key. This right here. While the Stars desperately need Brad Richards back, the return of Jamie Benn and Adam Burish could be just as important. There have been times when the Stars have fought hard the past few weeks but ultimately did not have the mental fortitude to overcome the adversity they were facing.

Players like Benn and Burish provide an energy on this team that cannot be measured, especially when you consider Burish's value to the penalty kill and the example he sets of how to play game in and game out.

Jamie Benn's return will start a new era for the Stars, as he will likely be expected to step up and fill the void left by James Neal when he was traded. Tomas Vincour will likely fill Benn's role on the third line and could see an increase in minutes as well. All in all, trading Neal will allow the Stars to give more minutes and more opportunities to a number of their younger players.

As for Brad Richards, his timeline is not as certain.

The Stars' best player did not practice on Monday and there is no timetable for his return. We now know that it is indeed concussion-like symptoms that is keeping him out and in today's sports landscape teams will be very hesitant to return players to the ice too soon.

Richards spoke yesterday about his injury, and had this to say (ESPN Dallas):

"I'm not thinking when I am back yet. I am just trying to get healthy," Richards said. "It's the first time I've been through something like this and it's not fun. You have your moments during the day when you thing you're turning the corner and then in another couple hours things aren't that good. It's a process and patience is what I am being told is the biggest thing I've got to have right now and let Mother Nature kind of fix itself with my brain or head or whatever is going on." 

Right now it seems that Richards is still at least a week away from returning, especially since he says he still has occasional headaches. Crawford says that they're being patient, that Richards is talking with the doctors on a daily basis and they aren't putting any pressure on Richards to return anytime soon.

Richards spoke of how an injury like this is frustrating since there is no true timetable to return and there is no rehab he can do to make it better. It's just a wait and see thing and that has to wear on a player who just wants to get back on the ice.

He also had this to say about the hit by Samuel Pahlsson:

"I remember everything. I didn't go out. It obviously stung me. I knew right away it was a good shot to the jaw. I've been hit like that a lot and you wake up the next day and nothing is wrong. I did get a couple of red flags that night and we wanted to monitor it a couple days. We're still here. Nothing was called and nothing was done, but he threw his elbow into my jaw as he was going past. Nobody skates with his elbow up at head level, and my head wasn't down at his waist. But it is what it is.''

Interesting.