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11 марта 2008 года. 
Dallas Stars' Zubov, Boucher waiting for green light // The Dallas Morning News 

Defensemen itching to return, but team being cautious not to rush them 

By MIKE HEIKA / 

FRISCO – Sergei Zubov shows up every day at the Dr Pepper StarCenter and waits for the go-ahead. And it could be finally coming. 

The Stars defenseman has been sidelined since Jan. 18 with a foot injury. The 25 games that he has officially missed are the most in his 15 NHL seasons. 

But coach Dave Tippett said Zubov might start skating again in a few days. That would be a revelation for the veteran who was having a Norris Trophy-type season before he got hurt. 

"I'm just so tired of waiting, but I know it's for the best," said Zubov, 37. "When I come back, I want to make sure I'm healthy." 

The Stars concur, and that's the reason for the caution. They initially waited for a fractured bone in his right foot to heal, but it didn't respond quickly enough. So a screw was placed in the bone on Feb. 24, and Tippett said there's now hope the fracture will be strong enough to support skating by the end of this week. 

If all goes well, Zubov would be able to return to practice soon after. If the practice plays out, he could start playing games. 

But with Dallas down to 10 games remaining in the regular season and the playoffs scheduled to start April 9, there is anxiety about just how many games he will need to get up to game speed. And with fellow defenseman Philippe Boucher on an even tighter schedule (possibly not practicing until early April because of a slightly separated right shoulder), the Stars have some interesting juggling to do on the blue line as the season winds down. 

Neither Zubov nor Boucher has battled an injury this close to the playoffs, so they both are curious to see how they handle the balancing act of getting healthy and ramping up their intensity with the rest of the team. 

"I don't know how many games it will take, because I've never done this," Zubov said. "I guess that's the tough part." 

Boucher, about two weeks short of his 35th birthday, said he's encouraged by the recent 38-game rehabilitation period that he used to get his left shoulder healthy. Boucher was out for almost half of the season and returned to play four games before injuring the right shoulder. 

"The first game was pretty shaky. The second game was better. And by the end of the Nashville game, I was really starting to see the ice better and just react better," said Boucher, who was hit eight seconds into his fourth game and had to leave the ice. "You have to get yourself healthy. But once you do, it starts to come back pretty quickly." 

That said, the level of competition in the playoffs will go up, and the rusty defensemen will have to elevate their play, as well. 

"You get frustrated, and you get nervous. But then you just have to let it go," Boucher said of the mental battle of rehab. "I just want to work as hard as I can and take care of what I can and just make myself ready and available for the team. So much of this is out of your control, but that's the part that I can control." 

Sergei Zubov (right) has missed 25 games with a foot injury. Philippe Boucher has a slightly separated right shoulder. 

Both Boucher and Zubov have seen improvement in their conditioning during the rehabilitation periods. Boucher has done a lot of lower body work and is aerobically in great shape. Zubov has done upper body work and has bulked up in his chest and arms. 

"What else is there to do?" Zubov said with a laugh. "You want to work out and you need to work out, so you work out. I do feel good, though." 

Boucher, meanwhile, said he could tell he was in better shape when he skated during his brief return. 

"If I go back and I trace over how I felt on the ice, it really did feel good," he said. "You're usually beat up at this time of the year, and I know I felt pretty fresh."

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