In the past two weeks, two different Dallas Stars have received suspensions from the league. What kind of impact are these suspensions having on the Stars’ success?
The Dallas Stars have been victims of injuries all season long, but lately their greatest issue has been with discipline issues from the league.
Jamie Oleksiak and Cody Eakin have both been given suspensions after illegal hits this month. While Dallas is used to line combination changes with Lindy Ruff behind the bench, having players forced to sit out definitely affects their game.
Lines in the NHL are a tricky thing to figure out. Different players have their own specific tendencies and they can cause a lot of variances in how a line works. Not to mention that chemistry is one of the biggest determining factor in whether or not a line succeeds.
All of those components combine to make or break line trios. At the moment the Stars are only missing Eakin due to suspension, he has two games remaining of his four. That is not so bad on its own, but when considering that Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky and Mattias Janmark are also absent from the line-up it creates difficulties.
Eakin is a widely diverse player and he participates in most situations throughout a game. His absence resulted in a brief period of Jason Spezza moving to a line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, which hurts Dallas’ offense by removing their one-two punch. Instead, the Stars have their three best forwards on one line that opposing teams can put their best defense up against.
Dallas’ defense has also felt an impact of the suspension of late. Eakin plays most often on the second line and partners with Jamie Benn as a line on the penalty kill. That causes different forwards with less face-off and penalty kill experience to be forced to play, which can lead to increased goals against.
Oleksiak’s absence is noticeable mainly because of his physical presence on the ice. Dallas does not have that many big defenders and No. 5 towers over them all, which is helpful against bigger teams in the league. Suspensions make it so that Oleksiak is not an option for the team and it hurt his position as a player because Ruff has been working with a rotation on the blue line that No.5 took himself out of.
On the bright side, the Stars have more than enough defenders. They recently sent Julius Honka back down to the AHL and they still have options at the blue line.
While it is neither ideal nor encouraged for players to make dangerous plays on the ice, sometimes things happen. Oleksiak and Eakin can only move forward and think of the consequences of their play, how those affect the rest of the team and how they can improve in the future.
The impact on the Stars is not something they are unable to overcome, but disciplinary actions by the NHL need not become a consistent issue for this Dallas Stars club that is already dealing with other concerns.