Stop me if you've heard this one before- The Dallas Stars have lost another defenseman to injury.
Sergei Gonchar was defending in front of Kari Lehtonen's net Saturday in San Jose when a shot hit him in the head and he was forced to leave the game and did not return.
Lindy Ruff was non-committal about the nature of the injury or on Gonchar's status going forward.
"He's alright," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "He just took that puck to the face and isn't feeling well, so he has to stay out for a while probably."
Nebulous and contradictory. Is he alright, or will he miss some time? How long is "a while"? Is it "concussion-like?"Only time will tell. What seems certain at this point is that Texas Stars captain Maxime Fortunus will make his first NHL appearance since the 2009-2010 season tomorrow night in Los Angeles.
The injury may cause Jamie Oleksiak to be recalled once more.
And that's a problem for the organization, because Willie Desjardins suffered the unexpected loss of Jyrki Jokipakka last night before beating the Barons 7-2, and were already without Patrik Nemeth, also injured. In fact, Toby Petersen was forced to play defense last night.
The depth at the position organizationally is as thin as it can stand to be.
Alex Goligoski and Brenden Dillon each played 32 minutes in the loss last night, and that's not a recipe for long term success as the schedule gets busier and busier in the lead up to the Olympics. They'll have to share the load, and very possibly be split up to spread what little veteran presence there is on this team (we're describing Dillon now as veteran, relatively).
So they're left with this...
Maxime Fortunus- 8 NHL games
Kevin Connauton- 10 NHL games
Cameron Gaunce- 14 NHL games
Jordie Benn- 61 NHL games
Brenden Dillon- 84 NHL games
Alex Goligoski- 352 NHL games
The other five have played, collectively, almost exactly half as many as Alex Goligoski has. Think about that.
It's an adventurous time. The Stars continued out-playing the Sharks even without Gonchar last night but as the Kings and Blues and company come calling in the weeks to come a young group will surely crack with a certain frequency. It's just the nature of the position and the game as a whole where youth and inexperience is concerned.
They are now probably pushed as far as they can possibly be without Jim Nill needing to do make an acquisition at the NHL level (We expect the phones at the AHL and ECHL level are being worked...). Perhaps Aaron Rome and Gonchar will both be back in a week's time, or so, and he won't have to.
Whatever the case, the Stars do not have luck on their side right now.
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