Greening Law Injury Report: Roope Hintz Injury Challenges Stars Depth
With Hintz injured, the Stars scored only one goal in two of three games. Does that change how they approach the trade deadline?
The Greening Law Injury Report takes a look at injuries around the NHL, potential impacts those injuries could have on the trade deadline, and how these injuries could impact the Dallas Stars.
The inaugural edition of the Greening Law Injury Report touches on a subject not often discussed this season: Dallas Stars injuries. That’s probably because of the fact that this team has been one of the healthiest all season so far, with Jake Oettinger missing a few games earlier in the season and Miro Heiskanen missing three games being the most they’ve had to deal with.
That is, until the recent injury of Stars forward Roope Hintz. The star forward has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury. Prior to the team’s 6-5 loss to the Calgary Flames, head coach Peter DeBoer said that Hintz has been skating the last couple of days but isn’t ready to return yet.
The team will hit the road on Sunday afternoon for a three-game swing through the Pacific Division, including matchups versus the Vegas Golden Knights (Monday), San Jose Sharks (Wednesday), and Los Angeles Kings (Friday). Two of those opponents are in playoff positions right now and should offer stout tests for the Strs.
At this point, you have to assume that Hintz will miss the biggest of those games, the Monday game versus Vegas. The Stars are in competition with them to sit atop the Western Conference, so taking two points from them would be a big four-point swing in that regard. Hintz didn’t practice with the team on Sunday, and DeBoer said it was unclear whether he would be on the road trip to start.
The question most were asking before the third period outburst on Saturday was whether Dallas has enough scoring depth with Hintz out of the lineup. In two of the three games that Hintz has missed, Dallas managed to score just a single goal each game, and only one of those was at even strength.
With Hintz out of the lineup, Tyler Seguin has stepped up to center the top line of Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson, and that trio has hummed along, scoring in each of the past three games. The problem is that the lines underneath them have gone cold since the calendar flipped to January.
Mason Marchment hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games and has just four assists in that span. His linemates have been jumbled around in an effort to find a secondary scoring line that is consistent, but nothing has quite panned out there yet.
It’s been seven games since either Wyatt Johnston or Denis Gurianov have found the back of the net. Joel Kiviranta is on a nine-game skid while Ty Dellandrea is riding a 14-game goal-less streak. Radek Faksa and Luke Glendening haven’t lit the lamp in over 20+ games (24 and 29, respectively). This isn’t to say that these guys don’t fill valuable roles or contribute in meaningful ways — that’s a lot of core penalty killing forwards in this group, and considering Dallas is the 5th-best in the league, those are quality contributions.
However, true contenders get depth scoring out of their bottom six guys consistently (see: Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche, etc.) The absence of Hintz just magnifies this issue, as it forces guys to play a slot above where they would ideally be or causes a mismatch of skillsets on lines because of the available personnel.
One thing that is good about the Hintz injury occurring now is that it likely solidifies the trade deadline needs for the Stars, and that would be ideally a top-six or middle-six forward that can play up when other injuries occur and as the need arises. That help could be sought externally, or the team could use this time to try to find the internal solution by giving more looks to guys like Riley Damiani or Mavrik Bourque on future callups.