Philip Larsen was returned to the Texas Stars today after his one-game appearance to sub in for Stephane Robidas (one-game suspension). Larsen did not even practice with the NHL team today. Instead, he will probably be in the Texas lineup Saturday against Houston.
As for his one game against the Kings, Larsen looked good in 19+ minutes, but coach Marc Crawford said the 20-year-old defenseman needs time to develop.
Crawford: "I think he's going to be a heck of a player. He made four or five outlet plays at the start of the game that bring you out of your seat. They just say that this guy has got it. On the power play, he was very good. His skating ability sets him apart."
While Andrew Raycroft looked good in a relief appearance (his first appearance of the season), Crawford said he still is leaning toward starting Kari Lehtonen Saturday against Buffalo. It would be Lehtonen's 10th consecutive start.
``We will see him sooner than later, but our schedule right now allows us to play Kari,'' Crawford said. ``He came in and had to make two or three good saves, and he did. That was good for his confidence. He's going to get in. The way we see it, he's missed a start, and he's missed a start because Kari has played so well.''
Crawford said he sees Lehtonen playing 60 to 65 games this season, but that the team fully trusts Raycroft.
``He's a very good veteran with great experience, and we definitely trust him,'' Crawford said.
Raycroft said he felt good in his first appearance and that he will be patient for his first start.
``I'm sure the first 20 minutes when I start, it will be pretty exciting, but I've done it before,'' Raycroft said. ``It's been a while (since he had a start) but it's not like I'm sitting on a couch or anything. I'm here every day working and getting ready, and so I expect to be ready when I play. It's not like they're going to ask me to play baseball or football, they're going to ask me to play hockey. And I've been doing that all of my life.''
The Stars are sticking with the move of Jamie Benn to the second line. Here were the practice lines:
James Neal-Brad Richards-Loui Eriksson
Brenden Morrow-Mike Ribeiro-Jamie Benn
Steve Ott-Tom Wandell-Adam Burish
Brian Sutherby-Toby Petersen-Brandon Segal
Nicklas Grossman-Stephane Robidas
Karlis Skrastins-Matt Niskanen
Mark Fistric-Trevor Daley
By the way, Stephane Robidas has been practicing extra long during his couple of off days to serve an automatic one-game suspension for acquiring two game misconduct penalties for boarding in a 41-game span. When I asked him about the extra ice time, he replied: ``I'm not trying to make up for anything or prove anything to anybody, I just love the game and I love to practice. It's been good for me to be out there.''