We all had Sunday to bask in the warmth of the Dallas Stars' Central Division banner and top seeding in the Western Conference. And now it's time to get back to work, as the Stars themselves have done – including their injured superstar, Tyler Seguin.
Seguin is scheduled to return to practice today; it's his first team activity since his left Achilles tendon was partially cut in the final seconds of the Stars' March 17 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Today's session gives coach Lindy Ruff an opportunity to see if Seguin's recovery is complete enough for him to suit up in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, he tells Mike Heika:
"He's actually is doing really well," Ruff said. "He will probably be involved in practice on Monday and I think that's important to get a read of where he's at. But he's skating real well and has progressed nicely. It's a real good opportunity for him to be in practice when we start up."
There's much more at Heika's place. [SportsDayDFW]
Monday morning update: Seguin sighting = confirmed.
Guess who's practicing today... https://t.co/yCfHdKG7jY— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 11, 2016
In case you are wondering, Oleksiak on the left wing, Janmark at center and Seguin on the right. :).— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) April 11, 2016
Now that Round 1 match-ups are set, revisit Mike Heika's chat from last week, in which he picked the two toughest playoff opponents for the Stars. [SportsDayDFW]
Elsewhere, Mark Stepneski ticks off the milestones the Stars have met and the ones they hope to accomplish in the second season.
Speaking of first-round opponents, the Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise missed the last game of the season and is day-to-day with an injury that may delay his playoffs start.
And Dallas' Round 1 schedule has been announced: Start time for Game 1 is 8:30 p.m. Central time, with doors open at 7.
Check out the entire Round 1 schedule for every team, including U.S. and Canadian broadcast information, courtesy of NHL.com. [NHL]
Masters Tournament coverage meant there was no Stars Sunday on The Ticket yesterday, but never fear – Bruce, Owen and the gang are preparing a two-hour playoff preview for this Wednesday, April 13 beginning at 7 p.m. Central time.
Last night's blizzard make-up games helped decide final seeding for the Stanley Cup playoffs, too. The Anaheim Ducks blanked the Washington Capitals 2-0 to win the Pacific Division, as well as the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals during the regular season. [ESPN]
The contest also marked the 1,000th NHL game for Capitals winger Justin Williams, who received a silver stick and a memorable tribute video.
Also notable was coach Barry Trotz's decision to sit starting G Braden Holtby to protect him from potential injury in a "meaningless" game – and incidentally denying him a chance to break the single-season wins record he currently shares with Martin Brodeur. [ESPN]
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, a 5-2 loss to Metropolitan Division rivals the Philadelphia Flyers has left the New York Islanders in wildcard position and earned them a Round 1 date with the Atlantic Division champion Florida Panthers. [Lighthouse Hockey]
Pavel Datsyuk confirms "I think I am I done" in the NHL, but agent Dan Milstein says Datsyuk will make his final decision after the playoffs and may yet return for his final contract season with the Detroit Red Wings. [MLive]
On Saturday night, Patrick Kane became the first U.S.-born player to win the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading points scorer. [Second City Hockey]
And here are all your first-round series in a single graphic.
Need help picking your fantasy Stanley Cup team? Ian Gooding has tips and strategies for winning your pool. [Sportsnet]
And Pat Iversen picks No. 1 goalies for playoff teams, including the Stars, who don't yet have one. [SBNation]
The Idaho Steelheads (the Stars' ECHL affiliate) have just announced their own playoff schedule with the reigning Kelly Cup champion Allen Americans.
Finally: Jason Spezza's natural hat trick is now a Bud Light Frozen Moment. Bask just a little while longer.