Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Mark Fistric ready to get back in lineup
By Mark Stepneski
FRISCO -- After sitting out the last five games as a healthy scratch, injuries to the Dallas Stars defense bring an opportunity for Mark Fistric to get back into the lineup.
“Obviously you never want to see a teammate go down with an injury, but at the same time it’s my job to come in and give the team minutes that are needed. How much that may be, who knows? For me, I have to be ready,” said Fistric. “It really hasn’t been that long, only a few games since I’ve played. I’m just going to treat it like we’ve had a little bit of time off in between games and pick up where I’ve left off.”
The Stars are likely to be without Nicklas Grossman and Karlis Skrastins for Wednesday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. Both were injured in Saturday’s game against Philadelphia. Grossman has a lower body injury, believed to be a knee. He underwent medical tests Monday and the Stars should reveal more about his status Tuesday. Skrastins was cut by a skate on his thigh and is day-to-day.
When Fistric went out the lineup, which coincided with Grossman returning from a hip injury that sideline him for 11 games, the Stars were happy with his play. Somebody had to sit, and that ended up being Fistric.
“We’ve talked to him over the last number of days to keep him upbeat,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “Mark played extremely well before Nick came back. We thought on that road trip he was one of our better defensemen. It was a tough decision to sit him out.”
Fistric, who led the Stars with a plus-27 rating last season, has had his ups and down this season. He played in 16 of the team’s first 19 games before going out with a groin/hip injury that kept him out of the lineup for ten games, which included a brief conditioning stint in the AHL. He played in 32 of the next 38 games, but has been a healthy scratch the last five games.
“You try not to get frustrated,” Fistric said of being scratched. “It’s just part of the process to get where I want to be. Right now I am on the odd-man out and I have to take the onus on myself to use time in practices and game days to put effort into little things that don’t get attended to when you are playing a lot of games. I get to shoot more pucks, get to skate a little bit more and work on things you don’t get work on when you are playing.”
And now that he will be playing, the Stars believe Fistric will get the job done.
“We have lots of confidence in Mark,” said Crawford. “He’ll come in and do a great job.”
Stars to call up Lukowich
The Stars will also turn to veteran defenseman Brad Lukowich to help cover the injuries on defense. The Stars put the 34-year-old Lukowich on re-entry waivers Monday and he is expected to clear and join the team for practice on Tuesday.
“At a time like this you value the experiences that he’s had,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “Everybody that has talked to me about Brad Lukowich has always talked about how positive a guy he is, how energetic a guy he is, how communicative he is. I noticed that on the ice. I know when we did a lot of our teaching in training camp, we used Brad a lot. He was one of the best at vocalizing out on the ice.”
Lukowich, signed as a free agent over the summer, has spent the season with the Texas Stars of the AHL, where he has 27 points (4 goals, 23 assists) in 67 games this season.
Lukowich played with both Texas and the Vancouver Canucks last season. He has 653 games of NHL experiences and played on two Stanley Cup championship teams (Dallas, 1999 and Tampa Bay, 2004).
“He's been through these battles before and we felt right now that's the best possible guy that we could have to come in to play in a situation where it is intense, where it is for the stakes that these are for,” said Crawford. “We're pleased that we've got a guy like that to call upon.”
Stars forward Loui Eriksson, who has missed two games after getting hit in the head by San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray, took part in the team’s optional practice on Monday. It was the first time he’s practiced with his teammates since the hit.
“I felt good today and it was a good practice. I am going to practice again tomorrow and we'll see how it feels," Eriksson said after Monday’s skate. "We'll see Wednesday if I can play or not.”
Stars coach Marc Crawford said the team will exercise patience with Eriksson, who will go through a full practice on Tuesday.
"He got to go through all the right steps first. We'll see how he is [Tuesday]," Crawford said. "It's a day by day with Loui. If he can play that's great and if he can't we've got to deal with it.”