When the Dallas Stars announced they'd recalled Matt Fraser from the AHL's Texas Stars on Friday morning, it seemed to indicate something larger was going on.
After all, Fraser was solid in his recent NHL stint, showing off his rocket of a release on his first NHL goal, but he is a player the Stars believe needs top six or nine minutes to be effective. With Francis Wathier already on the trip as injury insurance for the forwards, bringing up Fraser meant there would probably be some spot he needed to slide into on one of the scoring lines.
That slot turns out to be the one occupied by Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who reportedly suffered a groin "tweak" in Thursday's 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. While Morrow did score the insurance goal in the third period, he did not play for the final 10 minutes of the game.
While the original word was that Morrow was doubtful for Saturday's against the Phoenix Coyotes, Morrow told Mike Heika he was more along the lines of questionable. Groin injuries can be fickle beasts though, and even a mild tweak is probably worth a game or two of rest so it doesn't become a chronic problem.
And how would Fraser fit into the lineup if Morrow is out?
The guess is Fraser jumps into Morrow's spot with Eakin and Smith. Conspiracy theories are invited, but I think that's what's happening— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) March 8, 2013
Here's what Stars coach Glen Gulutzan had to say about Morrow's situation:
“He did it in the first or second shift, I think, of the game. He had two or three heat packs on the bench just to get him through the game,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “He’s tougher than the average guy, so we’ll see where he is tomorrow. He’s probably questionable I would think, but you never know with Brenden.
“If Brenden can’t go, we have Wats (Francis Wathier) and (Matt) Fraser, and we’ll see what works the best.”
Gulutzan also mentioned Philip Larsen's wasn't quite ready to come back from his shoulder injury before Thursday's game but added the defenseman looked better on Friday.
With a light optional practice today (you would want one too if you got to your hotel at 2:45 a.m. Arizona time), there's no real information on lines or pairings. If the only switch is Fraser for Morrow, this is what the lineup would look like:
Heika also reports that Kari Lehtonen will be in goal for Dallas as the team wraps up the first half of the season. They will need a much better effort than they had the last time they came to the desert, a disheartening 2-0 loss to the Coyotes marred by huge penalty issues.
The Stars are 2-1 against the Yotes this year with one of the wins coming in a shootout. Phoenix had been playing well for the first part of a three-game series against the Anaheim Ducks, picking up consecutive 5-4 shooting wins. But they fell flat in a 2-0 loss in the third game and got steamrolled 6-3 by the St. Louis Blues last night.
Official release about the Fraser call-up is below:
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has recalled forward Matt Fraser from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Fraser, 22, is tied for second in the AHL with 27 total goals, and leads the league with 14 power play tallies. Earlier this season, Fraser was selected to represent the Western Conference at the 2013 AHL All-Star Game. He has four points (3G-1A) in three games since his assignment to Texas on Feb. 28, and leads the team in overall scoring with 39-points (27G-12A) in 54 games for the club.
Fraser has skated in two games this season with Dallas, and recorded one point with a plus-2 rating. He earned his first career NHL goal against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 25 and has skated in three career NHL contests. Fraser went undrafted and was signed as a free agent on Nov. 17, 2010.
The Dallas Stars return to the ice on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena to faceoff against the Phoenix Coyotes at 7 p.m. CT (TV: FOX Sports Southwest; Radio: 1310 The Ticket).