Stop me if you’ve heard this one before - the Dallas Stars are headed into tonight’s game with an incredibly depleted forward lineup.
This time, as it was last night in Calgary, the Stars are going to be featuring no less than six fewer of the forwards they had under contract in July because of injury attrition. The Edmonton Oilers can somewhat relate - they have actually lost a larger number of man-games than Dallas, but from the periphery of their lineup rather than what feels like the entirety of the second and third lines.
But it’s becoming more and more clear that reinforcements are on the way in the short term. So it’s a nice time to update the status of the injured crew to see who might be riding back into town on a white horse.
Jason Spezza - Suffered a mysterious “lower body” injury just before the road trip and had reportedly been battling an injury earlier this year as well, though it’s unclear if the two are related. Has started skating again and may rejoin the team as soon as Sunday’s game in Vancouver.
Patrick Sharp - Been battling “concussion-like symptoms” since being steamrolled by Brayden McNabb during a game against the Los Angeles teams. Began working out last week and accompanied the team on the road trip, where he has started participating in practice. Will not play tonight but is a possible option for Sunday.
Cody Eakin - Left training camp with a knee injury after a collision with teammates. Original timetable was 4-6 weeks, which leads to a high suspicion of a knee sprain. Has started light skating in Dallas and appears to remain on his original time table for return sometime in the immediate lead up to Thanksgiving.
Jiri Hudler - Battling mystery illness that has, at least reportedly, not been able to be identified on medical tests. Returned for a few games before illness forced him back to the sidelines. No real timeline. In a way, reminiscent of the Shane Doan situation a few years back where he ended up being diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a relatively rare, regional tick-borne illness.
Ales Hemsky - Injured at the World Cup of Hockey and played one game for the Stars before needing season-ending hip surgery. Recovery time estimated at 5-6 months.
Mattias Janmark - Diagnosed with a degenerative knee issue just before training camp and had potentially corrective surgery. Earliest possible return is April.
The long story short is three players are likely to return sometime this month, two are basically out for the regular season and one is battling an illness in a situation that’s becoming mildly concerning. But those three who are due back soon will give the lineup a big boost.
As far as tonight’s game, the Stars somewhat surprisingly took a morning skate using the same lineup as they did last evening, including goalie Kari Lehtonen (who, to be fair, has very strong career numbers against the Oilers). Patrik Nemeth and Esa Lindell were the apparent scratches on defense.