To say the least, the Dallas Stars are having some bad luck this season.
Starting with the play on the ice. The Stars have seen questionable calls leading to opposing goals, heart breaking overtime losses and that adds to their subpar 4-5-3 record. Then there’s the injuries. After the news of losing Hemsky for several months (adding to the laundry list of players out indefinitely), the Stars had little room left for more injuries. Yet, Jiri Hudler was placed on injured reserve with an illness, Patrick Sharp hasn’t been cleared from his concussion in October and Jason Spezza sustained a lower-body injury.
That led to the unthinkable defensemen playing forward against the Chicago Blackhawks. In the second game of the back-to-back double header against the Blackhawks, Lindy Ruff was left to move Patrick Nemeth to forward.
Once that happened, you could conclude that this is an unfortunate start for the Stars in 2016.
But there were some bright spots in the play on the ice. Rookie Gemel Smith (called up from AHL in late October) connected for his first and second career NHL goals in the overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Smith’s second goal was scored in the dying seconds of regulation that gave the Stars a much needed point. Smith spoke about his goals and the loss against the Blackhawks.
“I think it was a pretty good feeling to get the first one away,” Smith said. “But I think the boys played pretty good and we deserved a better fate. But we were at least able to pull out the point, would’ve been better with the win, but at least we got a point.
Smith’s and other young guys play comes at a crucial time where the Stars are digging through the development levels. Guys like Smith, Devin Shore, and Justin Dowling are being asked to play significant minutes for a good amount of games. For Lindy Ruff, the call ups have been
“We’ve got what we needed out of the young guys that has come up and played for us,” Ruff said. “That supporting cast has done a heck of a job. And I think our defense has played some pretty good hockey. We’ve just missed on execution.”
The key for Ruff and the Stars is that last bit. They have just missed. There were chances to win against the Blackhawks even down a forward. There were chances in their loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. There were chances against the L.A. Kings and Winnipeg Jets. Ruff knows that if opportunities were made, this record wouldn’t be that bad.
“You know you look at it [the record],” Ruff said postgame against the Blackhawks. “I don’t want to use man power as an excuse. These last two nights we’ve played well enough to win. There’s been opportunities to win the game and we haven’t gotten the job done.”
The Stars have a tough schedule ahead of them playing four road games with a back-to-back-to-back and only one day off. Phew.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
11/9 @ Jets 7:00 p.m.
11/10 @ Flames 8:00 p.m.
11/11 @ Oilers 8:00 p.m.
11/13 @Canucks 3:00 p.m.