The Dallas Stars have generally been remarkably fast healers this season, from Patrik Nemeth beating his timetable to return from an arm laceration by two months to Tyler Seguin turning 4-6 weeks into exactly 3 with a knee injury. But after a near miss against the Tampa Bay Lightning, it appears John Klingberg will end up on the wrong side of the injury equation for at least one night.
Lindy Ruff told the media that it doesn't look like Klingberg will be able to play after suffering an upper-body injury on a borderline hit from the Flyers Zac Rinaldo on Tuesday. Klingberg's social media game is still going strong, though.
After Stars wins, and particularly ones where the team has played well, Ruff has seemed relatively reluctant to change up the lines this season, and he was asked about having to do that despite a nice win in Philadelphia because of the Klingberg injury.
"There's times there's a case for not changing," Ruff said after morning skate. "I think the other times there's a reason that you want to make the change. We've got to put together a pretty strong run here to get back in it. Really that's our focus."
With Mike Heika not on the trip for the DMN and very little news of the Stars morning skate coming out via that Hurricanes media, it's hard to say exactly what the lines or defensive pairings look like tonight.
A reasonable assumption is that, since Klingberg seems unlikely to play and there has not been another emergency call up from the Texas Stars, defenseman Jason Demers is ready to return after missing last game with an illness, and Daryl Reaugh reports that he was on the ice for morning skate. Razor also implied that Lehtonen would be tonight's starting goaltender after his strong outing against the Flyers.
Another interesting question is that of Cody Eakin, who was benched last game for disciplinary reasons. Razor said Eakin spent morning skate on a line with Seguin and Jamie Benn, but Ruff does like to have fun with lines at times so it's hard to say for sure yet.
Since illness seems to be the theme of this NHL season (though thankfully the mumps have long exited, stage left), the Hurricanes are also battling a flu bug and have several game-time decisions for their lineup. What is known is that Anton Khudobin will start in goal.
The Hurricanes are last in the Metropolitan and second-to-last in the east. They've moved many key pieces, though they still have the ever-dangerous Staal brothers, and boast a large contingent of young players trying to make an impression.
The Stars aren't quite that far gone yet, though they would need a minor miracle to make the playoffs this season. Still, Ruff said he sees his players still pushing to try and climb back into the hunt.
"I think you have lulls in the season where maybe a shot lane doesn't mean as much to a player, but right now, even late in the Philly game, you saw Hemsky going down blocking shots, you see Jason Spezza going sideways to block shots," Ruff said. "I think it's that type of desperation. It's the desperation if you've made bad play, to get back to your own end, that desire that if half a second makes a difference, I'm going to get there and be there for whatever lies ahead of me. It's that type of desperation that can change a game."