News: Coach Lindy Ruff said that Kari Lehtonen (concussion) is close to a return and is awaiting clearance from doctors to practice, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports. Analysis: Once Kari Lehtonen joins the Stars for full practice, Ruff said the goalie would be viewed as ready to resume playing in games. It still seems most likely that Tim Thomas will receive the start Friday vs. Calgary, but Lehtonen could be ready to go for Sunday's tilt with the Jets.
News: Cody Eakin (lower body) is doubtful to play Friday vs. the Flames, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports. Analysis: Cody Eakin was unable to skate at Thursday's practice and looks like he'll at least get an extra day or two to recover from the injury, which was likely sustained in Tuesday's win over the Blues. The Stars will likely call up an extra forward to take Eakin's place in the lineup Friday.
News: Alexander Sulzer (lower body) will return to the lineup Thursday vs. the Hurricanes. Analysis: Alexander Sulzer was given a one-to-two week recovery timetable after suffering the lower-body injury last Friday, but it appears he'll hit the low end of that frame after skating the last few days without incident. He's expected to replace Chad Ruhwedel in the Sabres' lineup.
News: Martin Brodeur will be in the crease Saturday vs. the Lightning, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports. Analysis: Martin Brodeur has put together a four-game win streak thanks to some respectable play of his own, but mostly, an offensive surge by his mates. With Cory Schneider tabbed to start Friday vs. the Panthers, Brodeur will get the nod for the second half of the Devils' back-to-back in Florida.
News: Raffi Torres (general soreness) is not likely to play Thursday vs. the Blue Jackets, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports. Analysis: Raffi Torres didn't take part in line rushes during morning skate as he continues to deal with some soreness after his first few games coming back from knee surgery. Coach Todd McLellan said the soreness wasn't unexpected, and added that Torres could receive rest on occasion to aid his recovery. There's a good chance he'll still be available for Friday's game vs. the Islanders.
News: Cam Ward is expected to receive his second straight start Thursday vs. the Sabres. Analysis: While coach Kirk Muller hasn't officially announced his starting goalie, fellow netminders Anton Khudobin and Justin Peters were the only goalies on the ice at Thursday's optional skate, as was the case at Tuesday's session, when Cam Ward ended up starting. Khudobin did a marvelous job filling in for Ward when he was on IR for the better part of two months, but his recent hiccups have opened the door for Ward to reclaim the No. 1 gig. With a productive outing against the Sabres, Ward could enjoy the bulk of the starts moving forward for the Hurricanes.
News: Steven Stamkos will move over to right wing for Thursday's game vs. the Panthers, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Analysis: It's likely just a temporary lineup shakeup from coach Jon Cooper, with the hope that a new arrangement allows the Bolts to end their five-game losing streak. The switch from center to wing has the secondary benefit of relieving some of the stress on Steven Stamkos' right leg, while perhaps squeezing a little more offense out of him. He has yet to record a point in his three games since returning from IR.
News: Cory Schneider will be in the crease Friday vs. the Panthers, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports. Analysis: Cory Schneider has been a spectator for the Devils the last two games since his seven-goal debacle against the Red Wings, but he'll get the call Friday. With a full week to reflect on the embarrassing outing, Schneider should be highly motivated to deliver a strong performance against the slumping Panthers.
News: Ray Emery (groin) was on the ice for Thursday's practice and believes he will be available over the weekend, Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Analysis: The Flyers have a home-and-home series lined up with the Penguins on Saturday and Sunday, making it likely that Ray Emery gets the starting nod on one of those two days, if his groin holds up. Emery hasn't appeared in a game since Feb. 27.
News: Daniel Alfredsson did not practice Thursday, but it is a maintenance day to get some immigration issues sorted out, Ansar Khan of MLive reports. Analysis: Daniel Alfredsson is healthy and should slate into the lineup Friday against Edmonton. However, he is in the midst of his biggest scoring drought of the season, with no points in five March games. He should break out of the slump soon, but use him at your own risk.