The Dallas Stars at the Anaheim Ducks. Game 5. It's almost here. Kind of. In like seven more hours. Ugh.
After lunch time in the Central time zone the combatants took the Honda Center Ice before that sea of dreadfully offensive red/orange upholstery and a few things were learned. Almost. It's playoff time, everything is a secret.
Chief among those secrets has been the well-being of Stars defensemen Brenden Dillon and Patrik Nemeth.
Will they or won't they? Early returns on Patrik Nemeth are good. Brenden Dillon.... mixed. He is skating, though.
Stars D-pairs in first drill: Goligoski-Daley, Nemeth-Jordie Benn, Connauton-Gonchar. Dillon skated with Rome on fourth pair.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) April 25, 2014
Brenden Dillon is one of seven D off early. Game-time decision— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) April 25, 2014
Game-time decisions, as the saying goes.
Lines being reported out of skate indicate that Erik Cole will continue to be out and that Ruff will continue to lean on his top three lines heavily while Whitney, Nichushkin and Mueller provide limited even strength time and spot duty in certain situations separately.
The single biggest determining factor in this series going forward, one Mr. Ryan Getzlaf, appears to be ready to return after taking full part in their skate this morning.
Mike Heika certainly seems to think so...
Ryan Getzlaf said we'll see for tonight, but he looks good.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) April 25, 2014
After ordering Mark Fistric to become the team's extra attacker Wednesday night while they were still "trying to win the game" Bruce Boudreau will likely take the former Star out after having given Ryan Garbutt a good talking to under a scoreboard that read "Final: Stars 4, Ducks 2" in favor of the more useful Luca Sbisa, which is more bad news for Stars fans...
BB then kinda gave up goods on Sbisa. "When he's at his best, he's been a top-four defenseman. We're hoping for that tonight."— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) April 25, 2014
It looks like Frederik Andersen will be back in the Anaheim net, but that one feels tricksy. Could be false. Could be more games, and Jonas Hiller may start. We'll see tonight.
What does seem certain is that Teemu Selanne will be back in for the Ducks. A motivated hall-of-famer who was just healthy scratched could be another dangerous thing.
Selanne confirms he's back in tonight. Says he's excited, no hard feelings after being healthy scratch. Says discipline will be key tonight— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) April 25, 2014
Meanwhile, Jamie Benn is on a bike contemplating how he's going to be the best player on the ice tonight with Ryan Getzlaf and the Anaheim crowd on such a mission... He'll figure something out.
Midday bike ride before skate. pic.twitter.com/oZn5KsFZXL— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 25, 2014