Unless you’ve literally been in some sort of coma since the end of last season, you’re aware that there have been some roster “troubles.” How many troubles? So many that today the Dallas Stars twitter shared a new page to track the injury reserve list:
The newest name to add to the list is Ales Hemsky. Unlike Jiri Hudler, who is already back in the line up, and Cody Eakin, who is expected back in 2-3 weeks, Hemsky’s hip surgery will sideline him for six months. That’s the entire regular season.
There are some stunning implications for Hemsky’s future, especially considering this is a contract year for him and he becomes a UFA next summer. And, although to date he’s only played one game this season, there are also some hefty concerns for the Stars moving forward, with Hemsky and Mattias Janmark out the entire season.
So what implications does this have for our roster? Consider the lines Lindy Ruff put together for today’s practice.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Jason Spezza
Lauri Korpikoski - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie/Gemel Smith - Adam Cracknell - Jiri Hudler
I’ll tell you one thing it means for the Stars in the near future, it means second line right wing Antoine Roussel, who is much better served in a checking third line where he’s free to rile up the opposing team. It also means a third line of two guys only recently promoted up from the NHL with some troubling possession stats. These charts were helpfully provided by Carolyn Wilke, @classlicity, and encompass games played this season to date.
Red is bad. For contrast, this is what the second line has looked like through the start of the season:
But even these lines aren’t set in stone, as it’s no secret that Ruff is not opposed to shuffling players around the line up, including in the middle of a game. But the kind of shuffling they’ve had to do with the number of injuries they’ve had to deal with won’t help the development of the younger players, not to mention that it’s hard to build chemistry as a line if the line constantly changes, and these younger guys have had to learn systems on the fly.
Ruff had some hard things to say about his team after yesterday’s practice, particularly as it applies to the power play, but the most telling thing he said was this:
"We've got a lineup that has changed drastically. We have to make some adjustments because the speed of our game with the personnel we have out has changed. The message today was we are not the same type of team we were last year. Not right now. Not with the number of injuries. We'll get Eakin back, and we'll get Sharp back, and then we'll go in that direction, but if we are going to be successful our mindset, with where we are as a team, has to change." [Dallas Stars]
The latter part of this quote has some reasons for hope. Ruff was talking a lot about the power play and how few shots were generated on it, but ended with the projected return of both Cody Eakin and Patrick Sharp. Sharp, obviously a key piece of our top six, and Eakin, who has the versatility to play anywhere in the line up.
The much touted depth of the Stars roster has certainly come into play this season, and is the only reason we’re not 0-8. We can survive this slump, especially considering that Eakin is close to a return and Sharp has been working out with the team again. And also considering that although we’re below 500, we’re 3-4-1. It’s not a good start, obviously, but at least we’re not literally in last place.
Don’t worry, I knocked on wood.