Stars first-rounder Dickinson will debut tonight

Although not under ideal circumstances, the Dallas Stars will show off an important piece of their future tonight even as they work towards far more immediate goals.

The Dallas Stars announced that Jason Dickinson has been summoned on an emergency basis. The squad is adding an extra forward because Jason Spezza is battling an illness.

Dickinson will consequently draw into the lineup, per Mark Stepneski of the Stars’ official website.

At the age of 20, Dickinson is one of Dallas’ top forward prospects. He was selected with the 29th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In 2015-16, he’s scored 20 goals and 50 points in 69 contests as a rookie with the AHL’s Texas Stars.

Thursday’s contest is an opportunity for him to make his NHL debut and thus give him a taste of what he’s working towards, but this game is also important for the Stars’ playoff picture. Dallas and St. Louis are tied atop the Central Division in terms of points, but the Stars have the edge thanks to the tiebreaker ROW. If Dallas beats Colorado tonight then that will go a long way towards securing not only the division title, but also the top seed in the Western Conference.

Related: Dallas has prospects ‘everybody wants,’ but Nill isn’t ‘giving them up’

Former NHL coach Jacques Demers suffers stroke

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Former NHL coach and current Canadian senator Jacques Demers is in stable condition after suffering a stroke on Wednesday, according to CBC.ca

Demers, 71, is a two-time Jack Adams Award winner and led the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup championship in 1993. He served in 1,007 NHL games as a head coach between his stints with Quebec, St. Louis, Detroit, Montreal, and Tampa Bay from 1979 through 1999.

His life is a story of a boy born into bad circumstances and finding success in spite of that. He came from an abusive household and left school after Grade 8. He revealed in 2005 that he was functionally illiterate.

Roughly a decade after he coached in his last NHL game, he was appointed to the Canadian senate and continues to serve in that capacity.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter this morning to wish Demers well.

Devils start hot, Dubnyk gets yanked for second time in four starts


With just a single point separating Minnesota and Colorado in the battle for the second Wild Card spot, every game is vital. Perhaps that was part of John Torchetti’s motivation when he yanked Devan Dubnyk just 17 minutes into Thursday night’s game against New Jersey.

Then again, Dubnyk might have been pulled under far less urgent circumstances after allowing three goals on eight shots. Devils forward Tyler Kennedy outmaneuvered the Wild goaltender within the first minute of the game and while defenseman Marco Scandella attempted to bail out Dubnyk, that sequence eventually led to Devante Smith-Pelly finding the back of the net.

Mike Sislo beat Dubnyk less than a minute later for his first career goal. Nino Niederreiter cut the lead in half, but not too long after that New Jersey’s Reid Boucher capitalized on a rebound that ended the Wild netminder’s night. To be fair to Dubnyk, Darcy Kuemper wasn’t able to stop the Devils’ onslaught either as New Jersey beat him another three times on the first 10 shots Kuemper faced.

This is the second time Dubnyk has been pulled in his last four starts as he only lasted roughly 30 minutes against St. Louis. He stopped just 13 of 16 shots in that outing, though he bounced back in his following game as he limited Montreal to one goal on 31 shots.

Mason doesn’t believe injury is serious

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All things considered, there are certainly a lot worse times for goaltender Steve Mason to be dealing with a lower-body injury.

The ailment prevented him from being the starter or backup on Wednesday, but thanks to the All-Star break he doesn’t have to worry about another game until Feb. 2. And by the sounds of it, if he’s not back for that contest, he might not miss much more than that.

“It’s not too serious,” Mason told CSN Philly. “We’re in the stretch here where we have a little bit of time to take advantage of some rest. That’s what we’re doing.”

We’ll have to see if this proves to be a bigger deal than it’s being portrayed, but it is worth noting that he was at least on the ice Wednesday morning. Philadelphia has also returned goalie Jason LaBarbera to the minors, per the team’s Twitter feed.

That brings the Flyers back down to two goaltenders, but of course the decision to reassign LaBarbera could be more of a reflection of the All-Star break then it is of Mason’s status. This makes LaBarbera available to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms over the weekend and after that the Flyers can recall him if needed.

Clifford (upper body) begins conditioning stint

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While the NHL’s All-Stars play and the remainder of the league rests, Kyle Clifford will be taking another step forward in his road to recovery.

The Los Angeles Kings announced that the 25-year-old forward has been assigned to AHL Ontario for a conditioning stint.

Clifford has been out since Dec. 6 with an upper-body injury due to a high hit from Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman. Once Clifford is ready to return, the Kings will be close to full strength, with the notable exception of Matt Greene (shoulder), who isn’t expected to return this season.

Clifford has never been a major piece of the Kings’ puzzle, but since breaking into the league in 2010, he’s been a consistent presence in the lineup as a bottom-six forward.