Corey Perry, Cam Fowler, Nick Bonino, Jamie Benn

Ruff invites anyone who dares to fight Jamie Benn


Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff offered a lengthy and overwhelming positive assessment of captain Jamie Benn, but he didn’t just focus on what the 34-goal scorer can do with the puck.

“I’d invite any one of those guys to scrap him and see how they make out, because he’s tough and I’ve seen him go,” Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning News.

“So if they want to push him past the edge, bring it on, because he’s the type of guy who will back any one of his teammates and back himself. And it’s a real back-up, it isn’t a tuck, drop and roll.

“You’ll come out bloodied. The two fights I’ve seen, both guys have come out bloodied. He doesn’t do it often, he doesn’t do it for show. He does it for himself, and he does it for his teammates.”

Dallas will play against Anaheim in Game 6 tonight and the Stars are one loss away from elimination. Benn, who was speared by Corey Perry earlier in the series, has been credited with nine hits and, more importantly, is tied for the NHL lead with four playoff goals.

The Stars will be counting on him to continue to make big contributions with their backs against the wall. And perhaps that will involve getting into a scrap before the night’s done.

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.