The Dallas Stars’ playoff chances will get a big boost Wednesday night when LW Jamie Benn returns to the lineup for the first time in six games. Benn, out since suffering a left thigh laceration against Calgary on Feb. 16, skated on a line with Steve Ott and Adam Burish at Tuesday’s practice and declared himself fit to face the Penguins.
“It went well. I felt good out there. It was good to get back out there with the guys, skate around, have some fun and do some high-paced drills,” Benn said. “I feel ready to go.”
Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan doesn’t expect Benn to play his usual 20 minutes per night right away, but believes Dallas will receive a huge boost simply by having the All-Star back in the fold.
“You need your guys back,” Gulutzan said. “Benny has been a huge player for us all season and we’ve managed without him and now he has to come back in and it’s going to give us a big boost for sure.
“Whenever you get a chance to get arguably your best player back, you welcome it with open arms.”
Benn’s return coincides with the Stars in the midst of an unlikely playoff push. They looked dead halfway through February — Dallas went 4-5-3 to start the month — then rallied to win four straight without the services of their best player. They were tough wins, too, as the Stars went into Montreal (3-0) and Chicago (3-1) before returning home to defeat Minnesota (4-1) and Western Conference-leading Vancouver (3-2, in overtime).
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.