The Dallas Stars continue to hang onto the top wildcard playoff spot and continue to attempt to fend off several teams trying to steal away their spot. The Stars may get a much-needed boost soon as veteran Mats Zuccarello, who appeared in just one game with Dallas after they acquired him from the New York Rangers at the trade deadline, is making progress and could return to the team soon.
Zuccarello, who scored a goal an assist in his first game in Dallas before breaking his arm while blocking a shot on Feb. 24, participated in Dallas pre-game, optional skate, according to NHL.com’s Mark Stepneski. His four-week recovery estimate is almost up and the team hopes that he could be ready soon.
“It increases every day,” Zuccarello said of the stickhandling. “Maybe a week, just started light and now I can shoot a little bit more, but it still hurts a little bit.”
The 31-year-old Zuccarello has 12 goals and 39 points so far this year, but the Stars need his experience on their struggling second line, especially if they want to remain in the playoff position they are currently in.
- The Minnesota Wild announced that the team will be without forward Zach Parise Saturday, who suffered an undisclosed injury Friday after colliding with Washington Capitals’ forward Tom Wilson. Parise, however, remained in the game and assisted on the team’s game-winning goal. The 34-year-old Parise is having a big season with 26 goals and 59 points in 73 games and has only missed two games this year up until now. It’s Parise’s biggest season since 2014-15. The team will replace Parise in the lineup with Pontus Aberg.
- The Winnipeg Jets are close to getting back a pair of key defensemen as both Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey each skated prior to the team’s morning skate Saturday, suggesting they could return soon, according to Mitchell Clinton of NHL.com. Byfuglien, who has been out since Feb. 14 with a lower-body injury, while Morrissey has been out since Feb. 24 with an upper-body injury. Head coach Paul Maurice said that Byfuglien has actually been skating on his own since Wednesday. “The way this works now is he skates, if he feels good the next day, he’ll start thinking about morning skates going forward,” said Maurice. “Then start building toward contact.”
- The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers reports that the team will be without star forward Mikko Rantanen again on Sunday at Chicago after missing his first game of the season against the Blackhawks at home on Saturday with a midsection injury. The 22-year-old was hurt in Thursday’s game against Dallas when he was checked into the boards along the team benches. He remains day-to-day.
- One a more positive note, BSN’s Adrian Dater reports there’s a chance, albeit a small chance, that injured forward Gabriel Landeskog, who was listed as being out four to six weeks with an upper-body injury back on Mar. 8, could return a bit early. That would be welcome news for a Colorado team that looked to be sliding out of the playoffs, but have had a recent resurgence that has brought them back into the playoff race. Landeskog is having a breakout year with 33 goals and 69 points.