Florida Panthers

Stars’ Seguin is ‘a possibility’ tonight in Tampa

The Dallas Stars could have forward Tyler Seguin in the lineup tonight when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Seguin has missed 10 games with a knee injury.

“He’s a possibility,” Stars’ coach Lindy Ruff told Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News. “We’ll have him go for warm-up and make him a game-time decision.”

The 23-year-old has not played since Feb. 13 after taking a low hit from Flordia Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

The Stars have gone 3-5-2 in his absence.

Seguin had 29 goals and 59 points in 55 games prior to the injury.

The Lightning won the only other meeting between the two clubs 5-3 in Dallas on Feb. 5.

Friedman: Ducks felt their success was a ‘bit of a mirage’

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The Anaheim Ducks are an interesting team, to say the least.

Sixty-six games into the season and the Ducks sit atop the NHL standings with a 42-17-7 record.

Yet compared to the other teams in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, Anaheim’s statistics are remarkably, um, unremarkable:

— Ninth in goals per game
— 18th in goals-against
— 22nd-ranked power play, with the 13th-ranked PK
— 16th in shots per game, 15th in shots against
— 15th in score-adjusted Fenwick

As we’ve noted before on PHT, the one thing the Ducks have done really well is win one-goal games, in which they’re a rather implausible 26-0-7.

Where are we going with all this?

Well, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Ducks themselves had doubts that they were as good as their record suggested. Hence, all the trades they made leading up to the deadline, acquiring the likes of James Wisniewski, Simon Despres, and Korbinian Holzer for the blue line, as well as forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Jiri Sekac.

“It’s interesting. They really like what they did,” Friedman told Sportsnet 960 yesterday, per Nichols on Hockey. “And it’s pretty clear – and I didn’t really realize it until I spoke to them – they think that their success was a little bit of a mirage. That they felt that [goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson] were absolutely saving them and they didn’t think they were very good.

“They felt very strongly that they could handle themselves against the heavier teams. The Kings, they felt okay with. The Blues, they felt okay with. But the really good-skating teams – the Blackhawks and some of the Eastern teams that saw them recently like Tampa – they thought they were just terrible against them. They couldn’t get the puck and they had nothing they could do.”

The Ducks, by the way, have won seven of their last eight heading into tonight’s game versus Pittsburgh.

Stars’ Seguin could return within a week

There could be some good news on the injury front for the Dallas Stars.

Tyler Seguin began skating with his teammates on Thursday and could return to the Stars’ lineup within a week.

Seguin has been out of the Dallas lineup with a knee injury following a low hit from Panthers’ defenseman Dmitry Kulikov on Feb. 13.

“Tyler really is closing in on day-to-day for us,” said Lindy Ruff following the team’s morning skate on Thursday. “I would say probably within a week or sooner. Depends how he responds to some heavy workouts here today, tomorrow.”

Seguin, who was expected to miss 3-6 weeks with the injury, missed his 10th game on Thursday night.

“My goal was to get on this trip,” Seguin said. “I had targeted it because it was early enough where it could be a goal because technically I shouldn’t be ready for another 1 1⁄2 to two weeks. This was the goal I set and I reached it, so I was happy about that.

“It felt good to be back out there, be around bodies. It’s (been) kind of me and two guys the last five or six times on the ice. Today was nice to be around the guys.”

The 23-year-old had 29 goals and 59 points in 55 games prior to the injury.

The Stars are 3-5-2 in Seguin’s absence.

Dallas continues its five-game road trip Saturday night in Tampa Bay.

Related: (Video) Stars get after Kulikov in first rematch since Seguin injury

Video: Stars get after Kulikov in first rematch since Seguin injury

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Panthers d-man Dmitry Kulikov served a four-game suspension for clipping — and injuring — Dallas forward Tyler Seguin last month, but that didn’t stop the Stars from exacting further revenge in their first meeting since the incident on Thursday night in Florida.

Dallas’ Curtis McKenzie challenged Kulikov midway through the first period:

(GIF courtesy Boston.com’s Stephanie Vail)

The Stars were asked about potential retribution prior to the game, per the Dallas Morning-News:

Vern Fiddler said after the last game, “I think it’s a gutless play for their D to do that. (Seguin)’s released the puck, and comes across and takes his knee out. There’s no room in the game, and it’s not a good play. It’s a gutless play on his part, and we’ll have to deal with that at a later time.”

However, the league suspended Kulikov four games for the hit, and Fiddler said on Thursday morning the Stars have to be focused on the game.

“The league took care of it, and I’m glad they took care of it, because it takes it out of our hands,” Fiddler said. “We want to play a fair game, that’s the way we play.”

Ruff said he too expects his team to focus on play.

“I’m not even going to talk about that situation,” Ruff said. “To me, it’s behind us, the league dealt with it. Both teams are desperate to win a hockey game, that has to be our focus. The biggest damage we can now is on the scoresheet.”

Kulikov said he wasn’t sure if anything would happen, but would be prepared to answer the bell if need be.

“I’m not really thinking about it, but whatever happens, happens,” he explained. “We’re not going to back off and let them retaliate and do nothing.

“If something happens, we’ll deal with it.”

Panthers clear captain Mitchell, put Montoya on IR

The Florida Panthers could get a key piece back for their playoff push tonight versus Dallas, as captain Willie Mitchell has been cleared to play for the first time in over a month.

In goal — which is the team’s biggest area of concern right now — backup Al Montoya (groin) has been placed on injured reserve, while No. 1 Roberto Luongo hopes to return from his upper-body ailment next week (but will miss the club’s next two games at a minimum.)

Mitchell, 37, would go a long way in making life easier for tonight’s starting goalie, Dan Ellis. The veteran rearguard has been a stabilizing force this season — averaging over 22 minutes a night — while helping tutor Calder candidate Aaron Ekblad.

The Panthers head into tonight’s action two points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston hosts Calgary this evening.