The Dallas Stars are getting fresh legs and a return of some dearly missed depth in their forward corps. Jason Spezza is back in the game, and Cody Eakin will probably be next. Patrick Sharp is on the way back, maybe as early as Saturday.
The question is, how soon can they help their enervated compatriots settle down and start winning consistently? Head coach Lindy Ruff is looking for ways to get his weary troops some rest:
Ruff is going to try to shake up his 6-6-5 team Thursday by not requiring players to be at the arena for the optional morning skate. Even when Ruff offered previous "optional" practices, players worked off the ice and attended meetings.
"This is a physical grind, a mental grind," Ruff said. "I am going to try to switch things up maybe from game to game. Maybe we'll come out here and practice and maybe we won't practice, and maybe we won't have anybody come at all some days. I think it mentally freshens up our personnel."
He’s also looking to Eakin to provide relief up and down the line-up:
Eakin was one of the team's most reliable players last season and worked his way up to centering the top line by the playoffs. The 25-year-old is a strong two-way player who typically checks the other team's best player and also has contributed 51 goals in the last three seasons.
"He's been missed," Ruff said. "He's a guy that can play on the first line, he's a guy that can play down the lineup, he's a guy that drives a lot of our defensive play in the defensive zone because he's good at getting under the skin of the top offensive players.
Read more at Mike’s blog. [SportsDayDFW]
Mark Stepneski previews tonight’s Stars-Avalanche game.
He also offers a sneak peek at the first U.S. location of Moxie’s, the restaurant chain that helped make Tom Gaglardi’s family fortune, which opens at The Crescent in Dallas on Saturday. (Heads up, full-season ticket holders: You get 10 percent off your food and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the Stars’ season.) [Stars Inside Edge]
By the time you read this, the Ginger Ninja could be on tonight’s roster. Or not. Either way, we’ll know, and knowing is half the blahblahblah.
Jamie Benn got all dressed up to accept the 2016 Community Excellence Award from Heart of Dallas Young Professionals.
Meanwhile, this is how the Dallas Stars Foundation is spending that 50/50 Raffle money.
Nothing to report in #Murder yesterday, but there’s plenty of it on tap for tonight:
- Winnipeg Jets @ Philadelphia Flyers, 6 p.m. Central time
- Nashville Predators @ Ottawa Senators, 6:30 p.m. Central time
- St. Louis Blues vs. San Jose Sharks, 7 p.m. Central time
- Minnesota Wild vs. Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. Central time
With the current pile-up of elite player injuries, which team will get the worst of it? USA Today’s Jimmy Hascup weighs the potential damage caused by the absences of Steven Stamkos (torn meniscus), Johnny Gaudreau (broken finger) and Taylor Hall (also a torn meniscus, which must have been the special this week).
Stamkos, Gaudreau, Hall out: Which NHL team will be hurt the most?https://t.co/cCN8veRgyU— Jimmy Hascup (@jhascup22) November 17, 2016
Speaking of injuries to elite players, projected No. 1 for 2017 Nolan Patrick will be benched for two to three more weeks thanks to the upper-body trouble that took him out six games into the WHL season. [NHL]
Elsewhere: Penguins G Matt Murray insists he’s all right after an accidental blow to the face from teammate Evgeni Malkin during last night’s 7-1 rout by the Capitals. [NHL on NBC]
Meanwhile, yesterday: Gary Bettman didn’t say the NHL wouldn’t go to the 2018 Winter Olympics. But will the price be a rumored three-year extension to the league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement?
The players want to go to PyeongChang, but will the neither-confirmed-nor-denied CBA extension be a poison pill?
As a former player who understands how much players dislike escrow this would surprise me if they accepted. https://t.co/Flo7Cbi889— Patrick O'Sullivan (@realPOSULLIVAN) November 16, 2016
Ken Campbell calls it an “out of left field” proposal that has “almost no chance” of happening – but also calls it a negotiating tactic that’s probably just a starting point for talks between the NHL and NHLPA. [The Hockey News]
Also in THN: Two teams from the Murderous Central made Sean McIndoe’s list of the five most confusing. [THN]
"If they ever put a shovel in the ground and actually build a building instead of just talking about one, we might pay attention.” – Gary Bettman
In Texas Stars action, the Cedar Park gang grabbed two SHGs but otherwise stumbled against the Grand Rapids Griffins, 6-3.
Finally: Yesterday, No. 32 celebrated his 33rd. Best wishes, Kari Lehtonen.