Tag: Lindy Ruff

Lindy Ruff

Under Pressure: Lindy Ruff


The Dallas Stars were a fun dark horse candidate for some time, but this summer ensured that they can’t get away with being a “work in progress” any longer. Much of the pressure to advance falls on Lindy Ruff’s shoulders.

Plenty of questions remain on defense

When you look beyond the flashy set of forwards and the gaudy prices on goalies, one cannot help but wonder if Dallas will still struggle to keep pucks out of its net.

Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi should (potentially) at least give them average-to-good goaltending most nights, but will the Stars’ hyped defensive prospects mature in time to patch up a leaky group of blueliners?

For one thing, it’s a little odd that Tyler Seguin wasn’t shaken off of his belief that Stars couldn’t just outscore their opponents in 2014-15.

“We felt we had all these top players, all this firepower that could score a ton of goals. Automatically in training camp we were scoring a ton, but we weren’t focusing on defense,” Seguin told Sportsnet in early August.

“That’s not the on the coaches or GMs at all. That was all on us. We felt we could outscore every team.”

Yes, Seguin lets management off the hook, but it still seems a little strange.

Rising expectations

On the bright side, the Stars were a pretty strong possession team. Defending Big D goes deep on that front.

To some extent, the formula might not be ideal, though; the Stars’ blistering offense (third in the NHL in “SAT For”) in some ways camouflages the fact that Dallas also gave up far more scoring chances than they would have preferred (20th in “SAT Against”).

How much can we reasonably expect the Stars’ defense to improve from there? Again, it’s difficult to say which prospects may make an impact (and when), so the blueline may be largely similar to the shaky one from last season. Johnny Oduya serves as a nice upgrade over Trevor Daley, but only to a certain extent.

Fair or not, Ruff will absorb plenty of blame if the same problems blot out the Stars once more.

Nichushkin expected to return to Stars’ lineup tonight vs. St. Louis

Valeri Nichushkin
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Valeri Nichushkin, who was recalled from his conditioning assignment on Thursday, is expected to return to the Stars’ lineup tonight when Dallas plays host to the St. Louis Blues.

Nichushkin has missed nearly five months after undergoing hip surgery in November.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff would not confirm Nichushkin’s return to the lineup, but Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News reports that it’s a safe bet the 20-year-old will appear in his first game since Nov. 6.

“He’s real excited to be back playing, to be back here and have the opportunity to play,” Ruff said.

Nichushkin had 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games during his rookie campaign last season while playing alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

He played in just four games registering a minus-3 rating this season prior to the surgery.

Ruff admits the club has missed the presence of the 6-foot-4, 205-pound forward.

“We’ve missed his size,” Ruff said. “For the most part, Seguin, Benn and Val were a good line. He was a guy who could hang onto the puck down low, physically dominate some teams, and even come off the wall in the offensive zone and make plays. And I really felt by the end of [last] year he was one of our best defenders coming back defending.”

Tonight concludes the five-game season series between the two clubs. Each team has won twice.

Stars’ Nichushkin (hip) nearing return

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When Dallas Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin returns to the lineup is now up to the 20-year-old.

Nichushkin, who has been out of the Stars’ lineup since November recovering from hip surgery, continues to practice with the team, but recently had a minor setback.

“It’s his timetable now…when he feels good enough,” Stars’ coach Lindy Ruff said. “We thought we had him close a few days ago, but with the harder practices, he was starting to feel sore and we kind of backed off a little bit. He’s skating really well. It’s just when it reaches that point when he feels he is going to be good enough to play.”

Nichushkin has appeared in just four games this season.

Last season he registered 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games with the Stars.

Stars’ Seguin is ‘a possibility’ tonight in Tampa

Tyler Seguin

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.

Stars’ Seguin could return within a week

Tyler Seguin

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