Cup Qualifiers Buzz: Seguin will be ready for Stars round-robin opener

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Dallas Stars

Tyler Seguin is expected to return to the lineup when the Stars play their first game in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Monday (6:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, NHL.TV, SN1, ATTSN-RM, FS-SW).

“[Seguin] finished the practice [on Saturday] and battled hard,” coach Rick Bowness said. “[He] will be full go tomorrow at practice.”

The forward was ruled unfit to play in a 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators in an exhibition game Thursday in Edmonton, the hub city for 12 teams in the Western Conference Qualifiers.

As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

Seguin was a full participant in all 10 practices during Dallas training camp. In the final practice, he and Jamie Benn were reunited on a line, along with rookie Denis Gurianov, and they were expected to skate together in the exhibition game.

Seguin led the Stars with 50 points (17 goals, 33 assists) in 69 games this season and has not missed a game in four seasons.

Forward Andrew Cogliano also is expected to play against the Golden Knights after leaving the exhibition game with an injury. Bowness said he took part in the first few drills Saturday to “get a feel for it.”

“He’ll be out there tomorrow, and he’ll be a full go on Monday, for sure,” Bowness said.

The Stars also will play the Colorado Avalanche (Aug. 5) and St. Louis Blues (Aug. 9) in the round-robin, which will determine seeding in the West for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Victor Hedman took part in practice with the Lightning in Toronto on Saturday.

The defenseman did not travel with the Lightning on July 26 to Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city for the Qualifiers. Hedman, who remained in Tampa to tend to a personal issue, had been taking part in individual workouts until he was able to travel. He arrived in Toronto on Friday.

Hedman, a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL, scored 55 points (11 goals, 44 assists) in 66 games this season

“If we can have a full team out there and get our lines set and get some chemistry going I think that’s huge,” center Tyler Johnson said before practice. “The next couple of days is big, especially because these [games] really start to matter. We don’t have much time before the real playoffs start and we’ve got to get rolling right away.”

The Lightning play their first game of the round-robin portion of the Qualifiers against the Washington Capitals at Scotiabank Arena on Monday (4 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS, SUN, NBCSWA). They also play the Boston Bruins (Aug. 5) and the Philadelphia Flyers (Aug. 8). The round-robin will determine seeding in the East for the playoffs.

Forward Steven Stamkos (lower-body injury) was listed as “unfit to practice” Saturday. He practiced Friday after not playing in Tampa Bay’s 5-0 win against the Florida Panthers in an exhibition game on Wednesday, skating at wing on the second line with Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn during drills.

Coach Jon Cooper said the unit will have plenty of time to work together during the next week. 

“We’ve got the luxury of getting in three more games before we play for keeps,” Cooper said. “So getting looks at guys in different situations is what we’re doing. It’s the same up and down the lineup whether it’s the [defensemen] or the forwards.” — Corey Long

 

Boston Bruins

Tuukka Rask did not practice with the Bruins on Saturday because he “wasn’t feeling well,” and the goalie’s status is to be determined for the game against the Philadelphia Flyers in the round-robin portion of the Qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS). 

“I’m sure the follow-up question [is] will he start?” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I’ll have to talk to Tuukka later, see where he’s at. So if not, [Jaroslav Halak] will be ready to go.”

The Bruins intended to start Rask against the Flyers; Boston also plays the Tampa Bay Lightning (Aug. 5) and Washington Capitals (Aug. 9) in the round-robin, which will determine seeding for the playoffs in the East.

Rask, 26-8-6 this season with a 2.12 goals-against-average and .929 save percentage in 41 starts, is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL. Halak, who Cassidy previously had said would see time during the round-robin games, was 18-6-6 with a 2.39 GAA and .919 save percentage in 31 games (29 starts).

Brad Marchand was a full participant during practice. The forward left with 11:40 remaining in the third period of a 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in an exhibition game Thursday. He appeared to grimace in discomfort while killing a penalty. — Amalie Benjamin

 

St. Louis Blues

Vladimir Tarasenko did not practice Friday but is expected to play for the Blues in their first game of the round-robin portion of the Qualifiers, against the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS2, ALT, FS-MW).

Coach Craig Berube said the forward sat out for maintenance reasons after he played 15:07 and led the team with seven shot attempts, including four on goal, in a 4-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in an exhibition game in Edmonton on Thursday. It was Tarasenko’s first game since surgery to repair a dislocated left shoulder Oct. 29.

“I don’t think the first exhibition game was much of a test, to be honest with you,” Berube said. “But going forward here in the round-robin he’s going to really have to get after it, trust his shoulder and trust himself and really push himself so he’s at a very high level when it’s over and we’re starting the playoff round. That’s what I’d like to see him do. I haven’t really sat down and talked to him about it, but I’m sure he’s thinking the same thing.”

Forward Alexander Steen and defenseman Vince Dunn, neither of whom played against the Blackhawks, practiced Friday, but Berube did not say if either would be available against the Avalanche.

The Blues also play the Vegas Golden Knights (Thursday) and Dallas Stars (Aug. 9) to determine seeding for the playoffs in the Western Conference. — Louie Korac

 

Colorado Avalanche

Samuel Girard will play for the Avalanche in their first game of the round-robin portion of the Qualifiers, against the St. Louis Blues at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS2, ALT).

The defenseman was not in the lineup for a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild in an exhibition game Wednesday.

“I was back on the ice the next day,” he said after practicing Saturday. “I’m feeling really good right now, so I’m going to be ready to go tomorrow.”

Girard set an NHL career high with 34 points (four goals, 34 assists) in 70 games this season, his third in the League, and led Colorado in ice time per game (21:18). He has played in 220 consecutive regular-season games, the third-longest streak by an Avalanche defenseman, behind Martin Skoula (285) and Karlis Skrastins (226).

Girard had two assists in nine games in the 2019 playoffs, missing three games because of an upper-body injury. — Rick Sadowski

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