Positive signs on injury front

FARMERS BRANCH -- It was an encouraging site as the Dallas Stars hit the ice for practice at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch Monday morning. Three of the team’s five injured players – Brenden Morrow, Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski – were on the ice.

Morrow and Daley are expected to return when the Stars open their five-game road trip in San Jose on Thursday. Goligoski is getting close and could return during the trip.

“Dales will be a player for us come Thursday, so will [Morrow],” Gulutzan said. “That will be two guys back in our lineup for sure. Goose is very close, too, with his playing cast. We're getting there.”

Morrow has missed the last six games with a back issue, and hasn’t played since the November 21 game against Edmonton.

“I felt good. Hands were not where I would like them, so I need a couple more good skates before San Jose on Thursday,” Morrow said. “The body felt pretty good today. I just need to get the timing back, but Thursday is looking pretty good.”

Along with the back injury, Morrow has had issues with a knee and an elbow. He’s gotten off to a slow start this season, but he didn’t want to use the injuries as an excuse.

“I was struggling for sure. I expect to be a better player, but whether that (the injury situation) is an excuse or not, I don’t know,” Morrow said. “I’m better than I’ve played and I expect to be better now. I am not saying that was the only reason, but I was not comfortable every game.”

Daley left the November 26 game at Phoenix in the first period with a back injury and has missed three full games since.

“It was a pinch and it went numb. It was more a caution than anything,” Daley said. “Once we got the picture and knew what it was, it was just a matter of time. I am ready to get back.”

Daley, who played all 82 games last season, said the game is a lot easier watching from the press box. It’s too easy, and that’s why he is anxious to get back.

“It’s a lot easier upstairs. When you slow it down and get to watch it from up top, it’s a heck of a lot easier,” he said. “I am ready to get back down. It’s too easy up there.”

Goligoski broke his thumb in the November 11 game at Pittsburgh and has missed 11 games. He’s been skating with assistant coach Paul Jerrard recently and Monday was his first practice since the injury.

“It was good,” Goligoski said. “It felt good to get out there with the guys, do some drills with the puck and throw passes and receive passes. Speed stuff, it was good.”

Exactly when he’ll return is still up in the air.

“I am waiting for a special brace, so I won’t know for sure until that gets in. With the brace I have now, it feels pretty good, better than I even expected,” Goligoski said. “We’ll see how it goes the next couple days, really don’t have to make a decision now.

“It’s listening to my body, the pain management and not overdoing it because you hear horror stories about that. You want to be careful with it.”

Fistric hearing on Tuesday

Stars defenseman Mark Fistric has a disciplinary hearing with the NHL Tuesday afternoon for his hit on New York Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter in Saturday’s game. His hearing with the NHL’s Brendan Shanahan will be done by phone.

Fistric’s hit left Niederreiter with a concussion.

"He had his head down and it's unfortunate that he was injured. You never want to see that," Fistric said. "It's the game of hockey, it's physical and it's contact. It's up to Shanahan."

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said the issue could come down to whether Shanahan decides that Fistric left his feet to make the hit.

"I thought it was a good face up hit. I think there is going to be an issue there with the league, I'm sure, about the feet," Gulutzan said. "I can sit here and say that they didn't leave the ground, but the replay is going to show that they did. But there was no intent on Fisty's part. He's a hard hitting guy and it was face up. Sometimes with these hits, when they are bracing themselves to make the hit, your momentum is moving upward. That's how you hit whatever sport you're in - you bend your knees and you drive your legs. He got off the ground, so that will be up to the league to decide."