Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jagr is out, Larsen is scratched, Reilly Smith to the top six and Kari Lehtonen has a "tweak." The Stars will certainly be challenged tonight.
Dallas Stars forward Jaromir Jagr will miss at least one game with a back injury, as he was not on the ice this morning at the American Airlines Center and will miss tonight's game against the St. Louis Blues. Jagr had two goals and four points in the season opener against the Phoenix Coyotes but has been held pointless in three games since.
"He's a little bit better today," said coach Glen Gulutzan. "I would say he's probable for Monday. It's a lower back injury that probably needs to get taken care of with a couple days' rest."
The Dallas Stars recalled center Colton Sceviour from the Texas Stars on Saturday morning, presumably in anticipation of Jagr not being able to go after he suffered the injury during Thursday's loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Gulutzan confirmed that Sceviour would be playing tonight.
"We really think he'll probably be in the lineup tonight," said Gulutzan, confirming that Sceviour is expected to play. "That's why we brought him up. He'll probably play center or right wing."
Gulutzan then seemed to inadvertently another issue when he stated Tomas Vincour is expected to play as well.
"We have another guy, we won't say, but he's probably 50/50 to go in," said Gulutzan, stating they'll have to wait until the pregame skate for a decision. "We'll have to wait and see. We won't disclose that one."
The Stars played three games in the first four days of the season and have yet to have two days off since the start of the season last week. Kari Lehtonen has faced 121 shots total in just three games, a workload that seems to have had a bit of a price.
"Kari Lehtonen had a little tweak," said Gulutzan, explaining the decision to start Cristopher Nilstorp in goal. "We're not going to mess with it. So we're going to start Nilstorp. We're still early into the season, I think sometimes we forget that two weeks ago these guys weren't playing. We want to make sure that we're healthy and we have 44 games left. Nilstorp will get the start and he deserves it."
So what do all of these changes on the roster mean? We don't know for certain, although Gulutzan did state that Philip Larsen would be the defensive scratch with Aaron Rome making his Dallas Stars debut. Defensive pairs are expected to be:
Goligoski - Robidas
Rome - Daley
Dillon - Benn
As far as the forwards, that still seems to be up in the air. Gulutzan stated that Reilly Smith will likely get moved up into the top six with Jagr not playing, although which line he jumps to is uncertain. If the mystery injured player is not in the top six, it could be as simple as just plugging Smith into Jagr's spot with Derek Roy and Loui Eriksson.
Mike Heika reports that, however, Derek Roy could be the other mystery player as he continues to work through whatever injury the Johan Franzen hit caused on Tuesday. If so, this could be the line combinations tonight against what is a top three team in the NHL.
Ray Whitney-Cody Eakin-Michael Ryder
Loui Eriksson-Tom Wandell-Reilly Smith
Brenden Morrow-Vern Fiddler-Eric Nystrom
Ryan Garbutt-Colton Sceviour-Tomas Vincour
One would have hoped, however, that Reilly Smith could go back to playing next to Eakin. We'll see. There is also a chance that Ray Whitney is the player that is ailing and not Roy.
Finally, Glen Gulutzan had a great mini-monologue when asked what the key to the Blues' success is and what the Stars can do to counter it.
"That's the key, is the depth," said Gulutzan. "The depth and the discipline. They're not a fancy hockey team, they're just a team that plays the same way for 60 minutes and tries to wear you down with that depth. They've got a little bit of everything. They've got grit, they've got size, they've got skill, they've got the goaltending and they play a very disciplined game. There's no weaknesses at all in their lineup, so I think the key for us is to just get into that grind game. We feel we have enough skill on our side, too, that if we play patient and we're above pucks and we don't turn anything over and we're disciplined ourselves then we've put ourselves into position to have success. That's the key against these guys."
Puck drops at 7 p.m. CT. It's going to be interesting.