Kari Lehtonenwas good for the entire practice and said he felt good and ready to play Thursday in a pre-season game against the Colorado Avalanche at AAC.
``He said he was 97 percent today, but that he'd be 110 percent tomorrow,'' Stars coach Marc Crawford joked.
Lehtonen clearly has dealt with plenty of injuries in his career and also knows about sore groins. He said he rested it and then slowly pushed it. He said he felt good today.
``It's part of training camp, I think,'' Lehtonen said of the soreness in his groin. ``You work hard in the summer, but it's not the same as practicing every day or playing every day. So when you do that, you're body has to catch up. I feel good. I went through some soreness, but now I'm fine and you push on.''
Lehtonen is also supposed to play the full final pre-season game Saturday at St. Louis, but that start will depend on how the groin reacts on Thursday.
Crawford is getting close to making this a dress rehearsal for his team. Fans will see the first game in which Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro both are in the lineup, as well as almost the first team defense. The lines could look something like this:
James Neal-Brad Richards-Loui Eriksson
Brenden Morrow-Mike Ribeiro-Adam Burish
Steve Ott-Jamie Benn-Tomas Vincour
Brian Sutherby-Toby Petersen-Brandon Segal.
Nicklas Grossman-Stephane Robidas
Mark Fistric-Trevor Daley
Karlis Skrastins-Philip Larsen
Both Vincour and Larsen have impressed in training camp. And while both could start the season in the AHL, the coaches obviously would like to get one last look at both to see how they interact with an almost full roster.
Tom Wandell is getting closer and again went through a hard practice, but he said the shoulder still is bothering him.
``My goal is Saturday, but if I don't feel good, I don't think I should push it,'' he said. ``I want to play, but I know that I have to be patient and get healthy.''
Wandell had knee surgery last year and had a fantastic summer of recovery. That's why the shoulder injury in camp is so frustrating.
``I felt great and I was skating hard and ready to go, so that does bother you when you can't do that,'' he said. ``But I know when the shoulder is healthy, then my legs will be ready too.''
Best line of the day came when we were discussing the importance of pre-season. Daryl Reaugh said he understands the need for intensity and the excitement of measuring big performances, but he said he doesn't like when people overreact to scores or stats when the season hasn't even started. Crawford said he also believes there needs to be a certain intensity, but that the real stats start when the regular season starts.
``I'll leave it at this,'' Crawford said. ``Who led the NHL in pre-season scoring in 1982-83?''
I offered up the obligatory Wayne Gretzky answer (you'll get half of the NHL trivia questions right if you answer Gretzky, but this was also right in his scoring wheelhouse), but Crawford waited a second and then pointed at himself.
``Look, that's all I'm saying,'' he said and then walked away.
I can't find Crawford's pre-season numbers for the Canucks that year, but I know he had four goals and five assists in 41 regular season games with Vancouver that season and spent half of the year in the minors. So, good stats are better than bad stats, but they don't really mean anything.
Thursday's game is the dry run for the Stars broadcast team as Ralph and Razor will do radio on 1310 The Ticket.
In addition, Francis Wathier and Maxime Fortunus are expected to be assigned to the Texas Stars today.