In this edition of Stars’ News & Rumors, some injuries to catch up on, Roope Hintz may be the most dangerous player in the league, and more.
Stars Injury Updates
As of today, there are a couple of new injuries that have arisen for the Stars. First, Michael Raffl is expected to miss 10-14 days with a lower-body injury. It is assumed that the injury occurred when Raffl blocked a shot against Detroit on Friday night.
Another defensive forward, Radek Faksa, will also be out for at least one game with a non-COVID-related-illness. The illness was described by Rick Bowness as a “flu bug” so the team hopes he will be ready to return to the lineup soon. They also hope that this bug does not catch on within the dressing room as others have recently.
Hintz Ranked Most Expected Goals Per Game
There are a lot of deep and strange stats in the hockey world and I will not pretend I understand every one of them. However, expected goals/points is a fairly useful stat. The players who rank among the top of these categories have proven again and again that they are dangerous every time they touch the ice. As of this weekend, Roope Hintz may be the most dangerous player in the entire NHL.
Hintz scored his 17th goal of the season on Friday, the overtime winner against the Detroit Red Wings, and added another on Monday [Jan. 24] against the Philadelphia Flyers. He has racked up 34 points in 37 games and continues to be a huge part of the Stars’ dynamic top line.
For Dallas and its fans, his coming out was similar to that of fellow Finn, Miro Heiskanen. With Dallas being a smaller market, their elite players do not gain as much attention as players from the more traditional hockey worlds. However, after a few seasons of consistently producing, he has started to become recognized as one of the best two-way forwards in the league.
On top of his elite speed and offensive talent, Hintz has developed into an excellent two-way center. With his big frame and excellent skating, he is able to stay with opponents, backcheck hard, and stay within reach of the danger at all times.
Above all else, he displayed his toughness and determination during the 2020-21 season. Dealing with a severe hip and groin injury that required surgery, Hintz played in 41 of the team’s 56 total games, remaining on the “game-time decision” list all year long. Knowing that, you would imagine his production dipped, right? Well, it actually improved, as he racked up 43 points in those 41 games. Although he has started to be recognized, I still believe he is very underrated.
Joel Kiviranta Gets Off The Schnide
It has been 507 days since the name Joel Kiviranta bounced around the NHL world. The rookie scored his first and only hat trick in his first-ever playoff game–a crucial Game 7 win against the Colorado Avalanche during the Stars run to the 2020 Final. Since then, there have been many ups and downs for the kid.
Last season, hampered by an injury, he played in only 26 total games. While he only tallied 11 points (6G, 5A), much of that was done in the short time after his return. This season, he has been a regular, playing in 31 of the Stars’ 38 games. He has played very well defensively, has gotten himself some scoring chances, but was unable to find the back of the net.
On Friday night against Detroit, that finally changed. After all of the hard work to get a goal through the first half of the season, all it took was a floating shot through a screen against the Red Wings to get the monkey off of his back.
“Of course, it feels good,” Kiviranta said. “Now that we won this game, it feels even better. It has been a weird season. 30 games without scoring a goal. But I did not want to make that too big of a problem to myself. I keep a positive mind every day and every practice and just try to shoot the puck, and sometimes, it goes in.”
Dallas could use some more offense from Kiviranta. Honestly, they could use a bit more offense from everywhere. Until Friday, they had received very little help from their depth forwards or their defenseman. With goals from Kiviranta, Ryan Suter, and Esa Lindell along with more chances from the third line, the Stars look to be finding some traction below their top six. Now, the sample size is small, as it was only one game against a mediocre team, but after a lot of nothing for the last couple of months, it is a step in the right direction.
The Stars will play their final game of the road trip tonight [Jan. 25] against the New Jersey Devils. This game will be the second straight back-to-back set they faced on the trip, defeating the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings on the first and overcoming the Philadelphia Flyers last night. With a win, the Stars would head back home with the maximum available eight points and four straight wins on the road. Did you see that one coming?
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!