The Dallas Stars met for the final time in the 2015-16 season today to break down their lockers, meet with the media and reveal their post-season injuries.
The biggest mystery, of course, was the status of Tyler Seguin, who played one game against the Minnesota Wild before disappearing with a mysterious lower body injury. That turned out to be a "severely injured calf muscle" that would have kept him our 4-6 weeks in the regular season.
Seguin said on the radio that the muscle was "torn," which points to a calf strain. the most common type of calf muscle injury. Strains are incomplete and minor, incomplete and major or complete tears of a group of muscle fibers. Given the time frame (and the fact that he did not have surgery), this sounds like a severe Grade 2 variety.
It's impossible to say whether coming back for Game 2 (rather than, say, Game 1 of Round 2) was a factor. Strains are tears in the muscle caused by trauma, overstretching or related things, and a muscle that was kept in a fairly neutral position and still during the healing of an injured tendon would be absolutely primed for such a complication by being stiffer than normal.
The Stars said they were hoping to get him back sometime during the Western Conference Finals if they had advanced, but Bruce LeVine reported that would likely not have been early in the series.
Would more time to prepare before his return have helped prevent the injury? That's impossible to say. Seguin skated for a full week before returning to play, including three days of practice at relatively full speed, and had weeks of rehab work before that. That's a pretty typical return-to-play schedule for a lower-body injury, including those that involve rest and potentially stiffened muscles.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to completely simulate game conditions in practice, which the Stars fell victim to here. The type of impact an athlete puts on an injured muscle is always just a little bit more, which could have been enough to tip this over the edge into a strain.
Lindy Ruff did mention that Seguin was medically cleared to return well before he actually came back, which indicates this was not necessarily an injury that more time off would have helped with.
Of course, the injury could have happened on a play that would have injured a completely healthy individual. Or it could have been exacerbated by a shot block or other in-game trauma. We will probably never know for sure, but it's a what if that will definitely linger.
Two other players were playing with relatively serious injuries.
Patrick Sharp had a separated shoulder, which is more technically an injury to one set of the ligaments that hold your shoulder blade to your collarbone.
This is the same type of injury that kept Jason Demers out for much of the end of the regular season, so being able to play through it is impressive. That said, it would definitely affect things like shooting ability as well as the ability to protect the puck (and it would hurt like heck every time he took a body check). His injury could explain a fair amount of the lack of production of the power play and the top line. With Sharp injured and less effective, it would be easier for teams like the Blues to focus multiple defenders on Jamie Benn, and Sharp was one of the main trigger men on the power play as well.
Antoine Roussel sustained an abdominal strain at some point in the playoffs as well. These are also injuries that can keep players sidelined for a good period of time depending on the severity, and depending on which part of the core was injured, can affect essentially every motion of the body that isn't limited to a single limb. The third line in general, and Roussel in particular, was not quite as effective in the second round, and this goes a long way to explaining that.
The other major news out of breakdown day was that Radek Faksa is headed to Russia to join the Czech Republic team in the World Championships. All of the other Stars players will be taking the time to rest and recover before off-season training begins.