The Dallas Stars blue line situation is getting a little bleak as they hit a crucial stretch of the season. Jason Demers was injured in Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. Thursday, coach Lindy Ruff said that the team will “know in about six weeks where he is at.”
Demers had his arm in a sling Thursday, but Ruff didn’t sound like it was a minimum six weeks situation. He told reporters, “You can always shave a couple of weeks off that [timeline].”
Working to his advantage is that it’s an upper-body injury, which means that Demers should be able to have his conditioning in order when he’s cleared by doctors. If they’re able to shave some time off of his recovery, that could maybe be the end of the season. As it sits, it looks like he’ll likely be returning during the postseason.
Enter Stephen Johns
In his place the Stars have recalled rookie Stephen Johns, who was traded to the Stars as a part of the Patrick Sharp deal over the summer. He’ll make his NHL debut Friday against the team that traded him away, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Johns has had some success in the AHL, posting four goals and 20 assists through 56 games on the season.
He’s expected to start the game paired with Johnny Oduya. Recent acquisition Kris Russell will roll out with Alex Goligoski, and a pairing featuring Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak rounds out the group.
Three Defensemen Out
Those pairings are partly a product of having everything shaken up on their blue line. Not only did the team acquire Russell at the trade deadline in a deal that sent Jyrki Jokipakka away, both John Klingberg (lower body) and Jordie Benn (lower body) are sidelined. Neither skated Thursday.
Klingberg, Benn and Sharp (lower body) have been ruled out of Friday and Saturday’s games. “Sharp is doing the best of them all. Klingberg looks like he’s still a period of time away. Jordie Benn is still a little bit of time away,” said Ruff.
It will be an interesting test for Dallas, whose blue line is certainly their Achilles heel. Even at full health, general manager Jim Nill thought they needed to acquire help via the trade market to compete in the postseason. Losing three players, two of which are top four defensemen, is going to test their depth and the growth of the group of young defenders Dallas is developing.
Featured photo by Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers.
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