Stars’ News & Rumors: Jamie Benn, COVID, & More

In this edition of Stars’ New & Rumors, COVID continues to work its way through the team, the captain hits a career milestone, and more!

Latest COVID Updates For Stars 

As the Stars continue their season into 2022, COVID has continued to affect their lineup. While they are in a far better position than they were near Christmas, they are still missing key players on a nightly basis. 

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The latest update saw Denis Gurianov, Braden Holtby, Alexander Radulov, Andrej Sekera, and Tanner Kero enter the protocol. Each player missed a few games and as of today, Gurianov and Holtby have returned to full participation in practice. Radulov was added to the protocol on Jan. 12 and Sekera entered on Jan. 14, meaning both players should be eligible to return soon. Kero was just added today, so it will be a while before he returns. 

Jason Robertson also missed Saturday’s game due to a lower-body injury. He remains day-to-day, is “very questionable”  for Tuesday, and will likely play on the upcoming road trip.

The absence of these players meant some playing time for prospects Riley Damiani, and Joel Hanley, along with veteran goaltender Anton Khudobin. All three played well over the weekend in Florida, Khudobin stopped 26 of 28 shots against the Tampa Bay Lightning in his first start since November. 

Benn Hits 900 

Friday was a big night in Florida for the Stars captain. Once the puck dropped, Jamie Benn officially skated in his 900th career NHL game. 

Since being drafted in the fifth round in 2007, Benn has spent his entire career with the Stars. In that time, he ranks third in franchise history in points (740) and fourth in both goals (320) and assists (420). Since 2005, Benn has the most points of any player drafted in the fifth round or later along with the 13th most points of any player overall.

“Give him credit for playing 900 games,” Rick Bowness said. “One thing about Jamie, I’ve always said this, his heart is in the right place. He tries and competes and does his best every shift, every game.” 

Jamie Benn-Stars' News & Rumors: Jamie Benn, COVID, & More
Jamie Benn #14, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Unfortunately, the game was a blowout from start to finish, as the Stars were dominated by the Panthers 7-1. Even so, 900 games is a milestone to be proud of, and if the captain ever spoke at all about himself, he would agree. 

Stars Continue to Struggle On The Road 

The losses to the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, while very different, both counted the same. After the weekend, Dallas moved to 4-12-1 on the road this season. The loss to Tampa Bay marked the seventh in a row away from American Airlines Center and pushed them further from their last road win on Nov. 27. 

“We’ve got some guys who are very comfortable playing at home and very uncomfortable playing on the road,” Rick Bownes said. “It’s very obvious.”

Related: Stars Road Record Remains Among League’s Worst

The Stars are simply a different team on the ice when they play on the road. At home, they show confidence and swagger while pushing the pace and smothering their opponents. On the road, they play timidly, make big mistakes, and struggle to make the simple plays. The comparable stats of road versus home back up this fact to a ridiculous degree. It is something that needs to be resolved in the very near future before it is too late. 

Roope Hintz Dallas Stars-Stars' News & Rumors: Jamie Benn, COVID, & More
Roope Hintz, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The biggest problem for the Stars right now is that their road games are completely different from one another. When there is one obvious issue, it can be fixed. But when the issues change from game to game, it is hard to properly evaluate the team’s performance and improve. 

“We’re implementing new things. When we see a game like tonight, we saw some things that we have to work on. Last night [Jan 14. vs Florida], you throw that out the window. It’s about getting our defense more involved. We score goals when our defense is getting 10-15 shots a game. 5-6 shots, we don’t score any goals. When we see things, we work on them.”

Over the weekend, they played two very different games. On Friday, they were completely outplayed, showed no compete level, and could not generate many scoring chances. On Saturday, they played tight defensively but appeared even tighter offensively as they were held to just two shots for nearly half of the game. 

“I think they outshot us quite badly,” Esa Lindell said about the second period. “We didn’t get the pucks deep and turnovers fed the game the way they play really well. That cost us longer shifts in the d-zone so we didn’t have the energy to play o-zone. We kinda just chipped it out and changed, and the next line had to play defense again. That was kind of the snowball effect.”

Dallas will have one quick home game against the struggling Montreal Canadiens before heading back out onto the road for four straight on the east coast. Hopefully, they will use this home game to find their swagger again and can rack up some points against teams that rank near the bottom of the league. 

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