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Ruff: Slumping Stars on ‘red alert’

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After closing out 2013 with a win over Los Angeles, the Stars were 20-12-7 and making a playoff push in the West.

Then, 2014 happened.

Turning the calendar basically turned on the Stars, as they’ve gone a woeful 1-7-1 to start the year. As a result, head coach Lindy Ruff said it’s do-or-die time for his ailing club.

“There’s no doubt that we’re at red alert,” Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “We know that.”

Dallas started the year about as badly as it could’ve imagined, losing its first six games in regulation while being outscored 26-12. According to the Morning-News, it was the first time the Stars lost six in regulation since the 1995-96 campaign, a year in which the team went 26-42-14 — the worst record in the 20 years the club has been in Dallas.

A 5-2 win over Edmonton last Tuesday briefly stopped the bleeding, but the Stars returned to their losing ways after that with defeats to Boston and Minnesota.

As such, the club that was chasing the playoffs three weeks ago now finds itself nine points back of eighth place in the conference. That’s forced GM Jim Nill to take a different look at how he might approach the trade deadline.

From the Morning-News:

If the Stars don’t stop their slide, there’s a chance that the playoffs will become too far out of reach and general manager Jim Nill will have to start making roster decisions.

The 16-day Olympic break begins Feb. 9. Most teams will have a pretty good idea then if they will be buyers or sellers at the March 5 trade deadline. That means a lot of people in the Stars’ organization have a lot on their minds right now.

“I do look at wining every game. I look at all of the issues that go into that and what we can do better,” Nill said. “But I also have to look at the big picture, so it is a little different for me. We need to win, but we can’t win at all costs.”

The Stars to have one big opportunity on the horizon to turn things around. After tonight’s game in Nashville, they begin a five-game homestand against Minnesota, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Colorado and New Jersey.

Kuznetsov passed concussion test, expected to play Saturday

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, from Russia, celebrates his goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Feel free to breath a sigh of relief, Capitals fans — Evgeny Kuznetsov is okay.

“During the end of the third period, Evgeny underwent and passed all tests pertaining to the league’s concussion protocol evaluation,” the Caps said today in a statement. “We expect him to take the morning skate tomorrow and play against the Stars later that night.”

Kuznetsov left last night’s game versus the Wild in the third period after appearing to take the butt-end of Mikael Granlund’s stick to the face.

Kuznetsov leads the Caps with 54 points.

After ugly collision, Flames put Ramo on IR

Calgary Flames goalie Karri Ramo is checked on by a trainer after Ramo's collision with San Jose Sharks' Joonas Donskoi during the third period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. The Flames defeated the Sharks 6-5 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
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The collision that knocked Karri Ramo from Calgary’s 6-5 shootout win over the Sharks on Thursday night didn’t look good.

And now, we’ve learned it wasn’t good at all.

On Friday, the Flames put Ramo on injured reserve, though — according to Sportsnet — he will stay with the team for tonight’s game in Arizona, before flying home with the club to be re-evaluated by team doctors.

The collision happened late in the third period, when Mark Giordano tripped Joonas Donskoi, sending the Sharks forward crashing into Ramo. The veteran netminder stayed down for a while before requiring help off the ice, and was immediately replaced by Jonas Hiller.

Ramo’s loss will hurt the Flames. He did well this year to rebound from getting waived — followed by a brief stint in the minors — and played some pretty good hockey in December and January, posting a .919 save percentage.

In a related move to the Ramo injury, the Flames recalled Joni Ortio from AHL Stockton on Friday.

Report: Ducks’ Stewart suffered broken jaw in fight (Video)

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Per the Columbus Dispatch, Anaheim winger Chris Stewart reportedly suffered a broken jaw in his fight on Thursday night with Jackets d-man Dalton Prout.

Stewart, who has eight goals and 18 points in 47 games this year, left the game following the scrap and didn’t return from the third period. Head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t provide any update on the veteran’s condition following the contest.

Assuming Stewart misses time with the injury, it would be a blow to the Anaheim lineup. Though he averages just 10:40 TOI per game, Stewart is a physical presence and has played pretty well of late, with three points in his last five games.

 

With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity

Montreal Canadiens' Devante Smith-Pelly , center,and Brendan Gallagher, left, celebrate their victory over the Carolina Hurricanes with goalie Ben Scrivens at an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Last year, it was Devan Dubnyk who saved the Wild and salvaged his career.

This year, could Ben Scrivens do the same for the Montreal Canadiens, and himself?

Admittedly, the odds are against him. But with Carey Price possibly done for the season, there’s at least the potential.

Scrivens, you’ll recall, was acquired from Edmonton in late December. While his first four starts did not go particularly well, he’s been downright solid lately. On Tuesday, he won his third straight, stopping 37 of 39 shots in a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay. His save percentage in those three wins was .959.

The 29-year-old will make a fourth straight start tonight in Buffalo, getting the nod over Mike Condon, whose save percentage has fallen to a lowly .905 for the season.

Like Dubnyk prior to joining the Wild, Scrivens has had success as an NHL goalie. In 2013-14, he boasted a .931 save percentage in 19 games for the Kings, before he was traded to Edmonton (right after the Oilers had traded Dubnyk, oddly enough) and things started to fall apart.

Also like Dubnyk, Scrivens had to spend some time in the minors before he got another shot with an NHL team.

Look, we’re not saying this is definitely going to happen. Scrivens has only had three good games, and the Habs’ issues since Price went down have extended beyond goaltending.

All we’re saying is that there’s the potential.

Tonight’s game is the first of three on the road for the Canadiens. They play Monday in Arizona and Wednesday in Colorado, before returning home to face Philadelphia next Friday.