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Thursday, March 10, 2011
Thursday practice update

By Mark Stepneski

The Stars had an optional practice in Frisco this morning. Defenseman Nicklas Grossman, who has missed the last 11 games with a hip injury, was among the players on the ice. Stars coach Marc Crawford said Grossman is close to returning and the Stars will see where he stands at tomorrow morning's skate.

"He practiced harder and he is a step closer to being the lineup tomorrow. We're hopeful that will be the case," said Crawford. "We'll see tomorrow how he is feeling and where everything is at."

Center Brad Richards, who returned last night after missing ten games due to injury, also was among the players who practiced today.

"In a funny sort of way the ten games off should serve to rejuvenate him once we get him back to NHL speed and NHL competitiveness," said Crawford. "I think it's pretty honest of us to say the speed and competitiveness of last night's game were a little above him, but he got better as the game went on and the puck was on his stick with a chance to win in on his last shift of the game. You know that he is only going to get better. We think he is going to get better each and every day and part of that process is to give him what he needs. What he needs is more intense competition. The intense practices are something that help him maybe more than they do some of the other players that we had out there."

About ten players did not skate today, including some guys who have logging big minutes lately - Alex Goligoski, Stephane Robidas, Jamie Benn, Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson.

Kari Lehtonen didn't practice today. Crawford said he'll continue to run with Lehtonen, who will get the start against Minnesota tomorrow night.