The loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night, a game in which the Dallas Stars dominated play for the majority of the game, was costly on more than one level. Aside from not gaining any ground in the standings, the Stars also ended up with several injuries to key players that will likely impact the roster tonight against the Washington Capitals and tomorrow against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Defenseman Trevor Daley, along with winger Ales Hemsky and Brett Ritchie, all came out of the game with varying injuries of varying severity. Stars coach Lindy Ruff pulled his absolute best Bill Belichick impression out of his hat, with this statement about the injuries to the three players:
"Well, the one guy, it's kind of mid-body," said Ruff. "I think the one guy, depends where he carries it, it could be lower or upper. The other guy is lower. We might as well get a little more detail. I give you guys mid-body now. One guy's mid. One guy's lower and one guy can be anyplace."
Hemsky was the one most likely to play, according to Ruff.
On Saturday, the Stars recalled winger Curtis McKenzie and defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka from the AHL -- although Mike Heika thinks there's a good chance neither will play tonight. Vernon Fiddler is ready to return from his injury, which would allow for Colton Sceviour to move back up to the top line, while David Schlemko is always available to step in for Daley if needed.
Schlemko, who has been decent in his games with Dallas so far, was acquired in order to allow the young defenseman to get playing time. Jokipakka has been playing well for Texas after his latest assignment, so there's always a chance he draws in.
"I think for the most part, those players understand that they're playing a very similar system, style of play that we're playing, so that really isn't a problem," Ruff said on Saturday regarding the young prospects in Cedar Park. "It's just about going there and playing, living through the mistakes and not letting mistakes bother you, because it's usually mistakes that have hurt players. I think if we were to talk about Jokipakka, we just want to keep him playing. He maybe had a couple rough games the last couple (in the NHL). He played a lot of good hockey for us. We didn't want him sitting and watching. So then they made the decision to take him out, the best thing for him is to keep playing. That's the thing we've been trying to stress and the thing that's probably helped our young D the most."
The Stars held an optional skate on Saturday morning, a day after having a spirited and competitive practice that focused mostly on the power play and special teams. Kari Lehtonen was the first goaltender off the ice and appears as he would be the starter tonight against the Capitals.
The Capitals played lost on Friday night to the Nashville Predators, and are facing some back-to-back demons of their own, 1-5-1 so far this season on the second game. Braden Holtby, who was on the cusp of setting a franchise record for consecutive starts -- won't play on Saturday night.
Instead, backup Justin Peters will step in for the Capitals as the Stars face a backup for the second consecutive game. Peters hasn't played since Nov. 29, and has a .872 save percentage and 3.28 GAA this season in seven games.