48 games is a long enough season that you want your best players as healthy as possible. That is exactly what Glen Gulutzan wants to do.
With the high number of regular Dallas Stars scratched because of injuries, last night's game really hurt to watch.
(Get it? Hurt to watch?)
Thankfully, the Dallas Stars were able to hold their own against one of the top 3 teams in the conference, despite the fact that they were missing Derek Roy, Jaromir Jagr, and Kari Lehtonen due to some minor tweaks. Throw in the fact that Jamie Benn was still missing because of his visa issues, and a lot of fans (rightfully so) thought that the game was going to be a complete blowout.
The Stars held their own, though, only losing by a single goal at the final buzzer. They may not have earned any points in the standings, but last night's game can certainly give fans and the players alike some confidence. They may not be one of the top teams in the conference, but they showed that they can at least hang with the big boys even with a depleted roster.
It's a good thing we know this now, too, because this will not be the only times injuries come up this season. 48 games in 99 days is a compact schedule, and injuries are bound to happen. The mistake that head coach Glen Gulutzan refuses to make, though, is bringing players back too early, and risk them doing more serious damage to themselves.
Jagr is 40, and Gulutzan said the Stars are going to trust his decision-making when it comes to injuries. Roy had shoulder surgery in the off-season and was hit hard by Johan Franzen on Tuesday in Detroit. Colton Sceviour, just up from the AHL, stepped in at center for Roy.
"We just want to be sure," Gulutzan said. "It was a short training camp, and we want to be cautious."
Lehtonen had a "tweak," Gulutzan said, and the Stars were hoping to give him a night's rest. In his first three starts, Lehtonen faced 121 shots. He played about six minutes Saturday and faced three shots.
"We don't want to lose a goaltender like some other teams have lost," Gulutzan said. "We're still early in the season, so we want to make sure we're healthy."
Gulutzan said the team would use the minor league team as much as possible to make sure that the Stars are healthy for the entire 48-game season.
"People say it's a short season, but it's really pretty long," he said. "We want to make sure we're healthy."
Knowing that the Stars can compete (even if ithey are barely hanging on for most of the game) on any given night makes this a much easier decision. And should the Stars make it to the playoffs, fans should feel much better about their chances, knowing that the roster is as healthy as possible.
Coming up in today's links: Some other observations from the game, the Texas Stars had a big win last night, and a goalie fight.
- The trend continues this season of high shot totals against the stars. Generally, that is not part of the formula for winning games. [Dallas News]
- Mark Stepneski has his game recap from last night, including some quotes from players and coach. [Stars Inside Edge]
- The hope is that Jamie Benn will be ready to play on Monday night. In the meantime, he gets to do some one on one training with Paul Jerrard. [Dallas News]
- The Texas Stars continue to play well, regaining the top spot in the conference last night with a 4-1 win. [Hundred Degree Hockey]
- The San Jose Sharks defeated the Colorado Avalanche, while the Chicago Blackhawks topped the Columbus Blue Jackets. Both teams are now 5-0 on the young season, and looking good. [NHL/NHL
- The players aren't the only ones trying to adjust to the fast start of the season. The refs are getting used to it as well. [Sports Illustrated]
- Your video of the day -- I know I said I was against senseless fighting in the NHL, but.... well, there is just something awesome when two goalies meet at center ice to duke it out. Maybe it's because it's not a publicity stunt like it is with opening faceoff fights. These guys have to really have a reason to get out there and fight.