Dadonov Returns to Stars Lineup

MONTREAL, CANADA - FEBRUARY 10: Evgenii Dadonov #63 of the Dallas Stars skates during the second period against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on February 10, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Dallas Stars defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. | Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Dallas Stars wrap up the regular season on Wednesday night against the St. Louis Blues and will welcome reinforcements to their lineup ahead of the playoffs.

Forward Evgenii Dadonov has been out of the lineup since mid-February with a lower-body fracture and will replace Tyler Seguin, who is getting a rest before the playoffs.

“It’ll be nice to see him in a game again, and we’re going to need probably everybody through this playoff run,” forward Matt Duchene told the media Wednesday. “He’s a heck of a player, and it speaks to the depth that we have that we can have a player like that coming off injury—not having been in the lineup and still doing what we’re doing. I’m sure he’s excited to get his feet wet and get back in the game.”

After missing so much time, one of the most significant concerns for a player could be their conditioning and playing shape, but Dadonov says he feels ready.

“I feel like staying in shape was the most important thing, and just taking the time to heal,” he told the media. “I couldn’t do a lot, but I kept myself in good shape. … It’s been a long time. I’m not sure exactly what to expect, but I feel good and should be fine.”

Head coach Pete DeBoer adds it’s the perfect time for the veteran to rejoin the team on the ice.

“I’ve got a history with him, and he’s always been a playoff-type player,” DeBoer said as he met the media. “I think his game translates to the playoffs. He’s heavy, he’s hard, he plays inside, and he gets to the right places on the ice. He’s coming back at the right time. … We’re excited to have him back and as an option for the playoffs.”

Dadonov has been a solid player for the Stars in the regular season, but his game does turn up a notch in the playoffs. Last postseason, he tallied 10 points (four goals and six assists) in 16 playoff games before his season ended with an injury during the Western Conference Final.

“I think that’s the most exciting part of hockey,” he explained. “I always like those type of games. It’s hard to explain, but I like playoff games much more.”

The Stars enter the night with a two-point lead over the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Western Conference. While the New York Rangers have wrapped up the Presidents’ Trophy for first place in the NHL’s regular season, Dallas can clinch home ice throughout the Western Conference portion of the playoffs with a win on Wednesday.

“It’s a big game,” Duchene said. “I think it’s maybe a little human nature to look past this game, but we can’t do that. There’s still so much to play for. Home ice is obviously a big thing.”

Dallas will not know who its first-round playoff opponent is until the Vegas Golden Knights and the Los Angeles Kings complete their seasons, which may help the team focus on the one aspect it can control: playing well enough to win on Wednesday.

“Obviously, behind the scenes, you’re preparing for the options that are there, but there’s still a lot of different scenarios,” DeBoer added. “We’ve just got to take care of our business. We talked to our guys this morning about earning the conference regular-season title. I don’t expect that lineup to hand it to us. …and I don’t think we want it handed to us.”

The regular-season finale between the Stars (51-21-9) and the Blues (43-33-5) begins at 8:30 p.m. CT at the American Airlines Center.

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