In this edition of Dallas Stars News & Rumors, John Klingberg and others battle through injuries, the NHL trade deadline approaches, and more.
Klingberg & Faksa Injury Update
2021-22 has been a relatively healthy season for the Stars, at least when it comes to injuries. Other than the multiple sicknesses that have gone through the room, they have had most players available on a consistent basis. This past week, however, a few injuries have started to sneak their way into the situation.
Radek Faksa was shaken up in a game against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 9 and has yet to play a game since. He has skated a few times separate from the rest of the group, so his return seems to be nearing with each passing day. Tanner Kero has filled in while Faksa has been out. It has not been a great year for Faksa, who is tied with a team-worst minus-14 but he remains an important player in the lineup.
John Klingberg was the most recent injury, coming against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night [Feb. 11]. It is assumed that the injury occurred when he took a big hit from Brenden Dillon, resulting in a fight between Dillon and Jamie Benn.
Youngster Thomas Harley was called up to replace Klingberg and played in his first game in over a month. Harley played 16:04 in the game against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday [Feb. 13] and finished the game with a minus-1 rating. Overall, it was a poor game for Dallas, who lost 4-0 to the Avs. Harley was part of that but was not particularly bad individually.
Both players were questionable for Sunday’s game and remain in the same status heading into Tuesday’s rematch with Colorado. Facing a red-hot Avs team, it would be nice for Dallas to receive some help from two important players returning.
Benn & Dillon: From Buddies to Fighting
When Brenden Dillon hit Klingberg on Friday night, it was one of the more thunderous hits that the star defenseman has taken in his career. The check was clean but still drew attention from the Stars’ captain, as Dillon took a clear run at a player with his head down. This was the second game where it was obvious the opponents were targeting Klingberg, something that did not sit well with the captain. Seconds later, Benn came on the ice and dropped the gloves with Dillon in a spirited fight that saw huge shots being thrown both ways.
The unique part of this story is that Benn and Dillon are not only former teammates but buddies who actually had dinner together in Dallas the night before the game. After the game, Benn was asked about the situation.
“Yeah,” Benn said when asked if it’s different fighting a former teammate. “My team comes first. I care about my players.”
NHL Trade Deadline Approaches
The 2022 NHL trade deadline seems to be rapidly approaching, now just over one month away (March 21). Dallas was hoping to know what type of team they have by this point of the season to be able to determine how they would approach the deadline. Unfortunately, an up and down rollercoaster has kept them in a similar spot throughout the season.
They currently sit just on the outside of the playoff picture but have been inconsistent throughout the year and often throughout a game. With key players like Alexander Radulov, Braden Holtby, Joe Pavelski, and John Klingberg set to become free agents this summer, the next few weeks will determine a lot for the future of the franchise.
“It’s so different this year because it’s so much later,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said about the approach to the deadline. “We have a lot of games to play before we get to the trade deadline, so a lot can happen there with injuries and how teams are playing. With the schedule we have, we’re going to be playing a lot, so we’ll know a lot more in six or seven weeks. You look at last season and while we had a condensed schedule, the road trips were a lot easier. We only traveled to a few cities, and we would stay there for two games. This year, we’re all over the continent and we still have a condensed schedule, and it’s going to be a grind for everyone. The teams that handle that grind will be the ones that succeed.”
The time is now to figure out exactly what type of team the Stars have. Whether they will be a playoff team ready for a deep run, a bubble team that limps in, or miss the playoffs altogether for the second straight season, there are sure to be some changes made on March 21 and at the conclusion of the season.
For now, Dallas is focused on an important rematch with the Avalanche on Tuesday night in Colorado. Following a lopsided 4-0 loss on Sunday, they should have all the motivation needed to put forward a much better effort. It should be a big measuring stick for the Stars and a fun matchup to watch.
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!