News: Kari Lehtonen (concussion) skated on his own before Thursday's practice, NHL.com's Mark Stepneski reports. Analysis: It would seem to be just an effort by Kari Lehtonen to stay conditioned while he awaits clearance for practice. The Stars have provided no timetable for Lehtonen's return after he sustained a concussion Saturday night, leaving his fate in the hands of team doctors.
News: Dan Ellis will be the starter in goal Thursday vs. the Lightning, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. Analysis: With coach Peter Horachek planning to save Roberto Luongo for Friday's match with the Devils, Dan Ellis will draw his second start for the Panthers since being acquired last week. His first showing against the Bruins didn't go particularly well, as he surrendered four goals on only 20 shot attempts.
News: Tomas Jurco confirmed Thursday that he is suffering from a broken rib, Chuck Pleiness of the Macomb Daily reports. Analysis: With the news that Tomas Jurco is dealing with a fracture than simple soreness, it would seem that the two-week timetable the Red Wings laid out for him would be overly optimistic. It's probably more likely that he could be out closer to a month, but a firmer return date should be etched based on how he progresses during his first week off the ice.
News: Alex Stalock was the first goalie off the ice and appears likely to get the start Thursday vs. the Blue Jackets, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports. Analysis: Coach Todd McLellan appears content to split up his goalies for their back-to-back games out east, with Antti Niemi likely to get the nod Friday vs. the Islanders. Alex Stalock has been stellar this season with a 10-4-1 record and a sub-2.00 GAA, but the streaking Blue Jackets represent a formidable adversary.
News: Mike Smith will be in the crease Thursday vs. the Bruins, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports. Analysis: Mike Smith has reeled off wins in four of his last five starts, but he'll be in for his toughest outing in a while Thursday, as the Bruins carry a six-game winning streak into the contest. Fantasy owners will probably want to continue to use Smith given how well he's played of late, but don't be surprised if he comes out on the losing end in this one.
News: Michal Neuvirth will get the start in goal Thursday vs. the Hurricanes. Analysis: Michal Neuvirth will be making his second start for the Sabres after shining in defeat in last Friday's debut, as he stopped 42 of 44 shots. While it seems coach Ted Nolan remains more comfortable with Jhonas Enroth as his primary starter at the moment, another strong showing by Neuvirth could convince him to lean in a different direction.
News: Ben Bishop will be in the net Thursday vs. the Panthers, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Analysis: Ben Bishop is the middle of his worst stretch in an otherwise magnificent season, as he's dropped four straight outings, with his save percentage falling below .900 in three of those instances. In Bishop's defense the caliber of competition he faced was high. A matchup against the sad-sack Panthers could be exactly what he needs to get back on track.
News: Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder) skated with fellow injured forwards Stephen Weiss and Darren Helm before Thursday's practice, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. Analysis: Until Mikael Samuelsson joins his healthy teammates for a full practice, he shouldn't be viewed as close to getting back in the lineup. Samuelsson saw scant minutes with the Red Wings before getting injured and could be dispatched to the minors once he's activated from IR.
News: Darren Helm (head) skated with fellow injured forwards Stephen Weiss and Mikael Samuelsson before Thursday's practice, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. Analysis: Until Darren Helm joins his healthy teammates for a full practice, he shouldn't be viewed as close to getting back in the lineup. He's missed the past four games with concussion symptoms.
News: Zac Rinaldo (upper body) took part in Thursday's practice, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly reports. Analysis: Zac Rinaldo missed Tuesday's game against the Devils with the upper-body injury. His return to practice bodes well for his chances of suiting up Saturday vs. the Penguins, but Chris VandeVelde remains on hand to take Rinaldo's spot in the lineup if he endures a setback over the next couple of days.