Valeri Nichushkin might not be in the lineup for Game 2 on Saturday, and that says more about the Dallas Stars’ depth than the 21-year-old forward’s play.
After a commanding 4-0 victory over Minnesota Thursday night, the Stars might get Tyler Seguin back on Saturday. That’s not confirmed, but after missing roughly a month because of a cut to his Achilles, he feels “pretty ready,” per Mark Stepneski of the Stars’ official website. Obviously if he comes in, someone needs to be pulled.
Nichushkin is very highly regarded, but for all his potential, he hasn’t broken out yet. He finished the regular season with nine goals and 29 points in 79 contests. Still, to have a player of his caliber in reverse would be a luxury.
As Heika noted in the Dallas Morning News:
Look, Minnesota is struggling right now. … But the thing is Faksa has been playing this way for 20 games. Same with Hemsky. Roussel and Eaves and Sceviour and Vernon Fiddler and Mattias Janmark help give Dallas maybe the best forward depth in the NHL.
Dallas still has its question marks. For example, it remains to be seen if its goaltending will hold up over the course of the playoffs and in that regard, Game 1 against Minnesota minus Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek wasn’t a particularly good test. But there’s a reason why the Stars finished with the top record in the Western Conference.