Programming note: Sharks-Stars coverage stars at 5:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California.
DALLAS – Stars defenseman Jason Demers is sporting a little extra headgear these days, with a full face shield to protect him from a severely busted lower lip.
That added protection could come in handy on Thursday night when he faces his former team at American Airlines Center.
“It’s going to be tough not to smile, but I have the bubble on so they can’t really see me smile,” Demers said after the morning skate. “I’m excited to play them, and it’s going to be fun.”
Demers spent the first five-plus seasons of his NHL career with the Sharks before he was traded along with a third round pick for Brenden Dillon on Nov. 21. He’ll play against the Sharks for the first time in a key game for both clubs.
"It’s guys I’ve grown up with in this league. It’s going to be surreal, but I’m going to enjoy every minute of it and try to get the win," Demers said.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I think it will sink in once the game starts. I saw the guys yesterday so it was a nice dinner with them. ... It’s going to be weird, but I’m comfortable here and it’s hopefully just going to be put out of my mind. It’s another game and another two points we need. It’s a big game for us.”
Demers’ club is chasing the Sharks for playoff position, although neither is currently in the top eight. San Jose sits in ninth place in the Western Conference with 66 points, while the Stars have 62 points and two games in hand.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff commented on what Demers has brought to Dallas since the trade. In 37 games with the Stars, Demers has two goals and 12 assists for 14 points and a -4 rating.
“He’s given us some good puck movement,” Ruff said. “He’s given us a guy that we’re real comfortable with on our second power play unit. He’s played in a lot of situations. It’s helped us when it comes to moving the puck out of our zone, and spending less time there.”
Demers suffered the lip injury when he was high-sticked by Boston’s Milan Lucic on Feb. 10, and punched by Colorado’s Cody McLeod four nights later. He did not miss any games.