Dallas Stars Practice Update: Curtis McKenzie on Crutches; Val Nichushkin Back in Lineup
The injured Stars forward is heading back to Dallas for further evaluation on his lower body injury while his teammates continue on to play the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
Let's hope for Curtis McKenzie's sake that the old adage that "No news is good news" holds true.
Because no news was what came out of Friday's Dallas Stars practice, at least regarding the recently recalled forward. McKenzie, who was injured on a check from behind by Nikita Nesterov in the Stars 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, was admitted to a Tampa-area hospital on Thursday with a lower body injury and is apparently on his way home.
Jim Nill said Curtis McKenzie is flying back to Dallas to be evaluated. Extent of injury not known yet. McKenzie is sore & in a lot of pain.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) October 16, 2015
Ruff said that McKenzie would be examined by the Stars team doctors once he arrived in Dallas, and they would be able to get a better handle on the situation once those exams are complete.
Nesterov was not made available to the media after last night's game, but he and Lightning coach Jon Cooper spoke briefly about the play after their Friday practice.
Nesterov said he didn't intend to hurt McKenzie, but has not reached out to him yet. "Bad situation."
Cooper said Nestrov situation out of their hands.
"The league is good at these things, they usually don't screw them up," Cooper said. "They take a lot of time to get things right and they pretty much always do. So whatever they come up with will be fine."
Nesterov has a hearing with the Department of Player Safety at 3:30 p.m. central time today. My guess is 2-4 games, though I've been so comically unable to predict the DoPS so far that it could very well be zero or 15.
Bolts defenseman Victor Hedman, who was injured on a check by Jamie Benn, will likely miss Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury (*cough*concussion*cough*), but he appears to be better than expected in a bit of good news for all around.
The Stars, however, didn't get any good news on the health front. Forward Travis Moen, who had been playing well on the fourth line to start the season, also suffered an undisclosed injury and may be unavailable for Saturday's game against the Florida Panthers.
To fill in for Moen and McKenzie at today's practice, Valeri Nichushkin rotated back onto the second line with Jason Spezza and Colton Sceviour while John Klingberg filled in alongside Vernon Fiddler and Antoine Roussel on the fourth line. Klingberg had a rough night against the Lightning, but Lindy Ruff said he will be in the lineup (and at his normal position) against the Panthers.
Jim Nill told Mark Stepneski that no decision has been made on a potential forward call up just yet. Given that the Stars are carrying eight defensemen, there's a distinct possibility that they could play seven defensemen and 11 forwards on Saturday. That would allow either Patrik Nemeth or Jamie Oleksiak to get his first ice time of the season.
Or they could make a call up later this afternoon from the Texas Stars, who play at Chicago tonight.
On the goalie front, it looks like another Kari Lehtonen start on Saturday as he was the first goalie off the ice. He is 2-0-0 to start the season and played very well at key times against both the Lightning and Edmonton Oilers. The Stars don't have a back-to-back situation until the first few days of November, though they do have a fair amount of East Coast travel on this road trip, so it's hard to predict the spot where Antti Niemi will slot back in.
Lindy Ruff met with the media after practice and discussed McKenzie, Nichushkin and the suddenly dangerous Stars power play: