Three weeks ago, it was pretty certain that Matt Fraser would spend the entire season with the Texas Stars.
Boy how times have changed.
Fraser's strength as a power-play specialist and top-six scoring winger limit the role the Dallas Stars really want to use him in up with the big club, and when most of the scoring forwards were healthy, it didn't make sense to bring him up and only use him in a fourth or third line role.
But the recent loss of Mike Ribeiro and Jamie Benn to injuries has stifled the Stars offense over the past four games, so Fraser was called up Sunday and may very well make his NHL debut Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks if the coaching staff looks for further lineup shakeups.
There are certainly some flaws to his game, as a 21-goal scorer isn't minus-12 for no reason, but the Stars have score five goals in the last four games and are desperate for someone, anyone to put the puck in the net.
That's all the 6-foot-2, 207-pound winger has done over the past three seasons. And if you need any further reason to root for him, know this: He's trying to make a professional hockey career while his mother battles a relapse of thyroid cancer back home in Canada.
"It is definitely tough," adds Fraser. "I mean, it’s not easy anytime there’s any health problems in the family. Luckily, [my mom] survived [cancer]. And then in 2008, she was re-diagnosed with it again. You know, she’s still here today which is good. She’s one of the strongest women I’ve ever met."
Matt raised about 18-thousand dollars for cancer research with his junior hockey league team in British Columbia.
After the jump, a slow news day in Stars world, more headshots than the league suspended in all of the 1980s and what happens when a fanbase turns on one of their team's players.
- Remember when the Stars were finding ways to win? That's not happening so much right now, details Mike Heika in this paywalled story. [DallasNews.com]
- Stars general manager Joe Nieudendyk did a good deed Saturday when he went to visit paralyzed teenage hockey player Jack Jablonski before the Stars took on the Minnesota Wild. [DallasStars.com]
- Remember when Nico Sacchetti was supposed to be the Stars next hig- school drafted prospect from Minnesota, following in the footsteps of Matt Niskanen? Well he's had a rough go of it since starting college but has a made a positive impression on his coaches recently. [Fox Sports North]
- So many questionable hits on Sunday, so little room on the Wheel O' Justice. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek each have hearings with the league Monday for hits in their games against each other, Ovechkin a charge and Michalek an elbow. And those poor, maligned Boston Bruins were up in arms about a hit Tom Sestito of the Philadelphia Flyers threw on Nathan Horton. [NHL.com/NESN]
- And as for Saturday's dirty hits, Henrik Zetterberg did not receive any additional discipline while Andy Ference of the Boston Bruins was handed a three-game suspension for boarding. [The Detroit News/NHL.com]
- Meet the enemy: For once, the Stars are about to play a team on a winning streak, and one that did them a standings favor on Sunday. The Anaheim Ducks have taken their newfound skills and used them to beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 for their fifth win in a row. [Los Angeles Times]
- Around the Pacific Division: More from Anaheim, this time from our friends over at Anaheim Calling, where they talk about for all the good the Ducks have done recently, they're still completely out of the playoff picture at the moment because of the horrid start. [Anaheim Calling]
- The fun thing about being a professional athlete is, well, you're a professional athlete. But the downside is you're under a microscope every minute you're out in public, even more so in some towns, and even completely bogus rumors can take on a life of their own. Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets is finding this out the hard way. [Puck Daddy]
- So much optimism in this most recent Stars Insider, and it was only from six days ago. I like to use things like this as a reminder that as bad as things seem right now, the season is one heck of a roller coaster and there's still a good chunk of it left to play out.