DALLAS – Dallas Stars defenseman Kris Russell is used to the business side of hockey now.
Getting traded three times in the past five seasons will do that to a player. Packing up, finding a new place to live, and getting acclimated to new teammates is part of the job.
“Once you’ve been through it a couple times you kind of learn what to expect,” Russell said. “The overall demeanor of this group and the personality of the guys made this one of the easier transitions.”
Joining a team that was in the midst of wrapping up the best record in the Western Conference doesn’t hurt either.
“It’s nice to join a good team like that,” Russell said. “We weren’t going to make the playoffs in Calgary, so this gave me a nice second chance to extend my season.”
The Stars play host to the Wild on Friday night, hoping to close out the first-round playoff series they lead 3-1.
Dallas paid a heavy price to acquire the 28-year-old Russell from Calgary before the trade deadline when it shipped Jyrki Jokipakka, prospect Brett Pollock and a conditional second-round pick to the Flames. The conditional pick becomes a first-round pick if Dallas reaches the conference final and Russell plays half of the playoff games up to that point.
Russell playing half of Dallas’ games shouldn’t be too difficult of a stipulation to reach. While he missed Game 3 because of illness, he was back in the lineup for a Game 4 victory and dished out a pair of assists as Dallas took a 3-1 series lead in St. Paul.
“Rusty coming back in after being out sick, he had a great game,” defenseman Jason Demers said.
It was a big impact in minimal ice time, 17 minutes, 6 seconds, and it was also one of the rare occasions Russell didn’t lead his team in blocked shots.
Russell blocked a league-high 3.4 shots per game during the regular season and finished with 210 blocks — he likely would have led the league if he had played closer to a full 82-game schedule.
A win in Game 5 would give Dallas its first series victory since the 2008 Western Conference semifinals against the San Jose Sharks.
Since that season the Stars have missed the playoffs in six of the past eight seasons, and failed to make it out of the first round against the Anaheim Ducks in 2014.
“We don’t want to mess around at all,” Stars forward Patrick Eaves said. “There’s a part of the team, that team came back on us 3-1, so this is not a time to take our foot off the gas. We got to really push for the win tomorrow.”
Since losing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2000 to the New Jersey Devils, the Stars have only made it out of the first round three times (2001, 2003, 2008) in the past 15 seasons.
• Dallas coach Lindy Ruff confirmed that Tyler Seguin is out for Game 5. Ruff said Seguin, “just continues to rehab,” and he didn’t travel with the team to Minnesota. Seguin played in Game 2 of the series after missing 11 games with an Achilles’ injury.
• Brett Ritchie could potentially join Dallas and be in the lineup for Game 5. Ritchie was assigned to the AHL-affiliate Texas Stars earlier this week and was expected to play in Game 1 of the Calder Cup playoffs Thursday. However, the 22-year-old right winger worked with the healthy scratches in Austin and could be called up.