Ruff: Slumping Stars on ‘red alert’


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.

Alexei Emelin was ejected for this hit on Matt Calvert

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Alexei Emelin has been in and out of the Montreal Canadiens lineup, but this wasn’t the way they wanted him to keep his legs fresh.

The hard-hitting defenseman received a game misconduct and five-minute major penalty for a late hit on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert on Tuesday.

So far, it sounds like Calvert may be OK.

You can see video of that hit above, as well as a GIF of the infraction via My Regular Face.

Many believe that Emelin should not have been ejected.

Injuries continue to dog Lupul as Leafs place him on IR

Joffrey Lupul
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Injuries have been a regular problem for Joffrey Lupul for much of his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing in 2015-16.

The team placed him on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 28, calling up Rich Clune in the process.

This IR stint means that Lupul will miss at least three games for Toronto.

From the sound of things, it’s a nagging issue, as notes.

“He’s been having the same problem here for a bit,” Mike Babcock told media members on Sunday. “He doesn’t seem to be getting the power back that they thought, so we’re just trying to monitor it the best we can.”

Leafs Nation points out that Lupul has missed about one-third of Toronto’s contests since suffering a separated shoulder in April 2012.

At 32, there’s still time for Lupul to fight through this, although injuries generally accumulate with age.

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?

We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.

Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.

Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks


Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks


Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.