Practice for the Dallas Stars on Monday was a tough affair, with the news that defenseman Patrik Nemeth is out for the season with a severe arm laceration along with the hangover from a tough loss on Saturday night.
The Stars called up defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka after Nemeth was lost to the injury, which Stars coach Lindy Ruff stated was even worse than we might have imagined.
When asked what the details of the injury were, Ruff wouldn't get into anything specific.
"It was a really severe laceration," replied Ruff. "I think it involves everything. When I say severe, I think that's an understatement. First and foremost, I think for his sake it's a full recovery."
Jokipakka had a good preseason and was clearly ready for the NHL and will now get his chance, although he's likely not in the game against Vancouver on Tuesday night. The defense as a whole had a very tough night against Philadelphia, which Ruff quickly turned to when asked about Jokipakka's possible contribution to the team.
"Another guy that had a good preseason," said Ruff on Jokipakka. "Maybe a little different player, defended really well. He's a guy that we will definitely look at as an option. Our defense as a whole had a pretty tough night against Philly. In my eyes, it's a group that needs to play better; that's really 1 through 6, I'm not pointing the gun at anybody. We gave up way too many inside opportunities, which kind of surprised me. I want to see the answer to that here against Vancouver will be. We need to clean up our game."
The Stars are still searching for the right chemistry and combination of the forward lines after the five-goal outburst on Saturday that also included some extremely troubling defensive coverage. Overall, the Stars have used talent and sheer will to get points in their past three games, yet haven't even come close to playing a complete game as a team.
Ruff shuffled lines considerably starting in Pittsburgh, which carried over into Saturday night against Philadelphia -- and now continues into practice.
Lines this morning:
Tyler Seguin was named the first star of the week with eight points in three games, and Jason Spezza is near the top of the league in assists, yet the Stars are desperately trying to find the right combination on the lower lines so that Ruff can get back to the four-line hockey he loves to use.
The Stars haven't been able to really use their speed and transition game to great effect since the opening two periods against Chicago, and Ruff hinted that he wants to see how this group responds to the stinker against Philly before making even more sweeping changes.
Remember that this is just practice and not morning skate; Ruff has stated recently he uses practice to look at possible options for games, but given what's happened the past few games these could be what we see tomorrow night at the AAC.
It's interesting to see Benn, Spezza and Seguin on the same line; a team that tried so hard the past few years to create center depth, now has three No. 1 centers on the same line.
Also of note -- Tuesday's game against Vancouver will welcome some former Dallas Stars coaches as Willie Desjardins and Glen Gulutzan roll into town with the Canucks.