By Martin Iheke
Boy…. what a busy week for your Dallas Stars. They made news on and off the ice with some of it being bad. We will start with on the ice as they were able to get revenge at the Boston Bruins last Tuesday night, winning 5-3. Stars captain Jaime Benn was the star in this one with two goals while defenseman Trevor Daley notched the game-winning goal, shorthanded. “It was a different type of game when it comes to, you know, three shorthanded goals in the game,” Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said according to NHL.com. “It looked like Boston was making a push when Daley scored his shorthanded goal. That kind of turned the momentum back in our favor and I thought we played a pretty smart game after that.” The Stars finished the three-game northeast road trip, 2-1-0, with wins at the Rangers and Bruins.
Unfortunately, it came with a cost because forward Antoine Roussel cross-checked Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid in the chin which earned him a five-minute major and an ejection. The league suspended him for two games. In other news last Wednesday, the Stars traded backup goalie Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick for the 2016 NHL Draft to the Buffalo Sabres for goalie Jhonas Ernoth. Ernoth is 26 years old from Sweden who is not very big at 5-11. He has spent his entire career with the Sabres and was coached by Lindy Ruff when Ruff was with them. He is 13-21-2 with a .903 save percentage and 3.27 GAA this season. “We’ve been looking for a goalie with a little more experience, and Lindy knows Jhonas well, so we think this will be a good fit,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said according to dallasnews.com. “We have a tough schedule down the stretch, and we need to be able to play both goalies.”
The Stars are hoping that they have found their guy for the backup spot and can push Kari Lehtonen some down the stretch. Ernoth would get his chance but not before team’s game against the Florida Panthers at home last Friday night. The Stars quickly got on top of the Panthers in the first period with a pair of goals from Jaime Benn and Jason Spezza. Lehtonen was outstanding in this game with 37 saves in a 2-0 win. This game, however, proved very costly as the Stars would lose three key players in the lineup. Forward Ales Hemsky would leave the game early due to a lower-body injury, then forward Tyler Seguin would leave the game in the third period because of a dirty hit by Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. A few minutes later forward Patrick Eaves would take a puck to the head, leaving him motionless on the ice for a little bit before being helped off the ice to the locker room. He would later head to the hospital for future evaluations. He has had a history of concussions so this was definitely a concern.
After the game, head coach Lindy Ruff spoke about the injuries especially the one to Seguin. “It’s a dirty shot,” he said. “It’s something that ends up taking your best player out of the game. Not only out of the game but out of the lineup little bit for us. Let the league deal with it. I used to yell and scream about it but it doesn’t do any good. It’s a shot that didn’t need to happen.” It will be interesting to see how many games Kulikov will be suspended for after the league has their conversation with him, but no doubt about it. Bad hit all around and it will sideline Seguin for 3-6 weeks. Eaves will be out for a while and Hemsky could be out for a week. These injuries have come at a wrong time as the Stars are fighting for one of the last playoff spots in the West. Not having these guys the following night at the Colorado Avalanche really hurt them as the Stars lost, 4-1. Ernoth started the game and looked good for the most part, but the guys in front of him were not good at all.
The Stars are currently five points out of the last spot in the West and must figure out a way to trend water in the next few weeks without their best player. The road just became bumpier for the Stars.
2/17 @Blues 7:00 pm
2/19 vs Sharks 7:30 pm
2/21 vs Red Wings 7:00 pm
2/22 @Wild 7:00 pm