Rough Seas Ahead
As if the Dallas Stars couldn't have any worse luck this season, they were hit with two more pieces of bad news. Forward Jamie Benn underwent an emergency appendectomy and is expected to be out for 10 days to two weeks, and forward Mike Ribeiro was placed on Injured Reserve retroactive to January 7, when he suffered a lower body injury against the Edmonton Oilers.
Benn, the team's leading scorer and only all-star representative, is a huge blow—no doubt about it. Benn has shown flashes of becoming an elite player in this league this season. The Stars' best playmaker, Ribeiro, has no timetable to return from this mystery injury, and as a result, the Stars' powerplay will noticably suffer.
The Stars sit two points out of a playoff spot with two games in hand over the struggling Minnesota Wild. The situation looks dire when Tom Wandell is projected to be the top line center. The beginning of this season forced the Stars to play as a committee when Kari Lehtonen went down to injury.
The heap of the offense may rest on the shoulders of Loui Eriksson. The 26-year-old Swede could easily be an all star this season. He has played his best hockey alongside linemate Jamie Benn. Now the focus is on if he can keep this high level of play going without the Stars' best offensive dynamos, and if the ship can hold together without any further leaks.
According to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, the lines will shake out like so tonight in St. Louis.
Morrow - Wandell - Eriksson
Nystrom - Fiddler - Ryder
Ott - Burish - Dvorak
Wathier - Dowell - Petersen
Grossman - Daley
Souray - Robidas
Fistric - Goligoski
Lehtonen is expected to get the start tonight against the Blues, and Richard Bachman will get the start against the Detroit Red Wings tomrorow.
The best place for the Stars to build is on their 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. It was arguably their best game of the season. They put the #peskystars philosophy into motion. The tenacity in their game was apparent. They earned the two points that have them in a critical position right now.
As mentioned in previous blogs, the Stars may need to play a much more defensive style of game. Currently, they do not have the offensive firepower that many other teams in the NHL have. To make matters worse, they face the hot St. Louis Blues and the always-dangerous Detroit Red Wings on back-to-back nights. Then after a two day break, they play two very winnable and critical games against the East's worst Tampa Bay Lightning and the Minnesota Wild.
You never know, teams could go into "trap game" mode with the depleted state of this team. However, as the adage goes, you never know what a cornered beast might do.
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