Dallas Stars Injured Defense Will Be Big Obstacle to Overcome Down Stretch

CHICAGO IL - JANUARY 05: Nicklas Grossman #2 of the Dallas Stars hits Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the chest at the United Center on January 5 2011 in Chicago Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

At one point on Saturday night the Dallas Stars were playing with exactly three defensemen available to them.

While the fan base has whined and moaned about the inability of Mark Fistric to find his way, through no fault of his own, to an NHL shift the last couple of weeks, his way back became clear against the Flyers. Undisclosed lower body injuries to both Nicklas Grossman and Karlis Skrastins have paved the way for Mark Fistric to return on Wednesday; Surely not the way any of us had pictured it.

Nick Grossman played only two shifts on Saturday before being shelved for the game with a lower body injury. The defenseman had recently missed several weeks with a bum hip before returning and there is some speculation that the same hip could be bothering him now.

Skrastins left sometime in the third period and his situation is even more ambiguous and possibly serious. Reports (little more than rumors at this point) were that Skrastins had taken a skate blade to the leg and was dealing with a serious laceration. After letting a few hours pass and the dust to settle this appears to be little more than rumor, and we'll wait and see before calling it the truth. Neither ESPN Dallas nor the DMN can report such a thing at this time, evidently, so we'll wait and see. Some of you have confirmed that Joe Nieuwendyk did indeed say this on The Ticket last night.

What we can say is that Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk sounded hopeful on the Ticket Post Game Show that Loui Eriksson could possibly return on Wednesday for what is probably the most important game of the season yet.

Ironically, after the Stars fell behind 2-0 and lost several blue liners to injury, it was their defense (the battered, battered, tired defense) that heroically scored both goals last night and earned them a point.

If Skrastins and Grossman both are injured for any extended period of time, the Stars have some rearranging to do on their PK. Calling up Philip Larsen is not going to replace the skill sets of Skrastins and Grossman. Dallas' PK is almost assuredly going to take a hit soon with those players being out.

Fortunus could be an option as things move forward. Dallas will need to call up at least one body to fill in on D. If there is a positive here it's that the Stars, despite how many teams loss to far inferior competition last night (Red Wings, Kings...) did not drop, though 9th place got a little bit closer.

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