Stars’ depth definitely being tested
DALLAS — Thanks to a three-goal second period, the Dallas Stars handed the Philadelphia Flyers a 5-1 defeat on Saturday afternoon at American Airlines Center. However, for the third time in four games, the Stars lost a veteran due to injury.
This time it was fourth-line center Vernon Fiddler who was lost to an upper-body injury late in the first period. Fiddler, who was centering the Stars’ fourth line alongside Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt, did not return to the ice for Dallas.
“He’s got (an) upper body (injury),” Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ll re-evaluate him on Monday, but it looks like a little bit of time. Nothing too serious, but he’ll miss a little bit of time.”
Of course, Fiddler joins veteran defensemen Trevor Daley (lower body) and Stephane Robidas (leg fracture) of players who were lost to injury over the past week and change. Daley’s injury occurred on Thursday night in Toronto while Robidas’ came in last Friday’s shootout loss to Chicago.
With Daley and Robidas out, two d-men who have logged pretty heavy ice time no matter who has been coaching the Stars, Ruff leaned on who is now the most experienced member of his rearguard in Alex Goligoski, who led the Stars with 27:31 of ice time against the Flyers.
“He really has been our best defenseman back there. With the absence of Robidas and now Daley, we’ve really loaded up the minutes on him,” Ruff said postgame. “I admire his bounce-back from sitting out (earlier in the year). You have to give him a lot of credit. He knew he wasn’t good enough at the time and came back and wanted to make a difference. He deserves all the credit in the world for that. He’s really just taken the ball and run with it.”
Against Philadelphia, Ruff juggled his defensive pairings again, this time putting rookies Kevin Connauton and Jamie Oleksiak, who have all of 25 games of NHL experience between them, together and the pairing worked out pretty well.
Goligoski was paired with Brenden Dillon while Jordie Benn and Sergei Gonchar were the Stars’ third d-pair. However, the Stars did active Aaron Rome on Saturday and he could make his season debut as soon as Tuesday against Chicago with Benn being the most likely choice to be a healthy scratch so Rome can draw in.
As for Fiddler’s injury, the Stars do have another center on the roster in Dustin Jeffrey, who was claimed on waivers from the Penguins last month, so he could slide right into Fiddler’s spot on the fourth line.
However, the Stars likely have to make a roster move i.e. call someone up from the AHL to give them some depth at center. Since the team has Sunday off, that move likely won’t come until Monday.