At this point, the Dallas Stars have to be feeling like someone’s playing a cruel joke on them.
Already without Patrick Sharp, Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky and Mattias Janmark, the Stars can add Jiri Hudler, who has missed the past two games, to the list of players sidelined for at least another few outings, and there’s concern that Jason Spezza, who was one of the early season bright spots while the team was dealing with more injury trouble, could be out for a handful of games, as well.
Hudler, 32, has missed the past two games with what has only been called an illness by the Stars, but the amount of time he’s been forced to miss is somewhat concerning. After skating in the first two games of the season, Hudler sat out the next five games before making a brief, two-game return to the lineup. However, he’s yet to get back into the lineup since the Nov. 1 meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas placed him on the injured reserve Sunday.
Brought in to be an asset for the bottom-six, especially with the long-term injury to Janmark, Hudler hasn’t been able to be that not for lack of trying, but rather because he’s simply been out of the lineup so frequently. When he has played, Hudler has averaged nearly 15 minutes of ice time, but has failed to find the score sheet or register a single shot on goal.
But for as much as the Stars have been missing Hudler as part of their bottom six, the more worrisome ailment is that of Spezza. The veteran pivot had missed two games in late October with a lower-body injury, and he was forced out of action Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks after skating less than nine minutes with another lower-body injury.
Following the game, Stars coach Lindy Ruff said that Spezza will, at the very least, miss Sunday’s rematch against the Blackhawks, and there’s a possibility he could be out even longer. According to Stars Inside Edge’s Mark Stepneski, Ruff said Spezza will “miss a little bit of time.”
Spezza is an integral part of the Stars’ second line, especially with the absence of Sharp, and having him sidelined really thins out the Dallas attack. In nine games, he has four goals and five points.
In response to the injuries, Dallas has brought up center Justin Dowling from the AHL’s Texas Stars. The 26-year-old has appeared in two games for the injury-riddled Stars and registered an assist in his season debut against the Winnipeg Jets. However, Dowling might not be in the lineup Sunday. According to the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika, Dowling’s recent schedule and travel could see Ruff use a defenseman in a fourth-line spot on Sunday.
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