Jason Spezza has been a point-per-game player over his past 20 games, but the Stars center could be out of the lineup for an important stretch of games after being forced out of Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury.
Thanks to 20 points in his past 20 games, Jason Spezza was on a near 30-goal, 65-point pace for the Dallas Stars, but the 32-year-old pivot may be out of the lineup for a while after suffering an upper-body injury Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche.
Spezza left Thursday’s game with 12 minutes remaining in the second period, but it’s difficult to tell what exactly is ailing the veteran center. Spezza, who had added to his point total with a goal in the first frame, took his final shift of the contest on a power play, but he remained on the ice for the duration of the man advantage. At the first stoppage, though, he headed to the Dallas bench and did not return.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff wouldn’t get into specifics of the injury post-game, but told the DallasStars.com’s Mark Stepneski that Spezza could be sidelined for “more than a few days.”
Losing Spezza on a team with as stacked an offensive roster as the Stars may not seem like a huge blow, but considering Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, Dallas’ one-two punch, have combined for just four points in the past six games, losing Spezza means the Stars lose a depth weapon that can contribute consistently.
When Spezza misses his first game due to injury, it will be the first outing the Stars will have played without his services since he was acquired from the Ottawa Senators in July 2014.
This wasn’t a great time to lose Spezza, either, as the Stars are heading into a difficult four-game stretch. In their next three outings, the Stars will host the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks before games on the road against the Minnesota Wild and Blackhawks. And after Dallas gets done with three divisional games in six days, they’ll square off against the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals late next week. It’s hard to find a tougher stretch of games in Dallas’ schedule.
If the Stars want to take back the Central Division lead from the Blackhawks, the home-and-home set — with Minnesota between — will be an extremely important pair of games. Failing to at least split the contests wouldn’t mean Dallas is out of time to regain the division lead, but it would mean the Stars have an uphill battle to get back into top spot in the Central.