Richards' injury looms large for Stars

BY foxsports • February 14, 2011

By Steve Hunt
February 14, 2011

Marc Crawford dropped a pretty big bombshell after an optional practice on Monday morning at the Frisco Star Center. The Stars head coach began his remarks to the assembled media with an injury update. Everyone in attendance figured that his first topic would be the condition of defenseman Nick Grossman, who left Sunday's loss to Columbus in the first period with what was thought to be a groin injury.

Well, Crawford did address Grossman's situation but before he discussed his blue liner's status for the club's three-game road trip through Western Canada, he announced that top scorer Brad Richards would miss all three games after suffering an injury in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to the Blue Jackets at the American Airlines Center.

Brad Richards will not be coming on this trip with us. He suffered an injury last night in the last shift of the game on a hit in the neutral zone. He's not feeling 100 percent today and Brad would like to join us but we think it's the best measure for him to stay behind and get him back to 100 percent before he rejoins the club," the Stars head coach said. "It was the result of a hit from the last few seconds of the game where the goalie was pulled. We're going to be cautious here with him and do not only what's best for Brad Richards but also for the Dallas Stars."

Richards had played in all 56 games through Sunday and scored his 24th goal of the year in a losing effort against Columbus. Currently the Dallas leader in both assists with 39 and points with 63, the 2011 NHL All-Star is tied for the team lead in goals with Brenden Morrow as both have 24. Richards currently ranks fifth in the league in assists and is sixth in points.

So, his absence leaves a huge void for a Stars team that has struggled in the second half of the season and is just 2-6-1 in their last nine games.
 Crawford was pretty vague about what sort of shuffling he plans on doing to help fill the sizeable hole that Richards' injury leaves on his top line, but he does have some ideas.

Well, right now we'll probably just use [James] Wandell a little bit more. I'd think Jason Williams will get a little more power play time," the Stars head coach said. "You don't replace a guy like Brad in a short-term thing with one guy. It's got to be a whole group effort of guys coming in and giving us a little more. James Neal will really have to take a leadership role. Loui Eriksson will have to become the leader on that line. Guys that are coming in have to do what's right"

But the news is a bit better on Grossman, who will at least travel on the road trip.

Nick Grossman will accompany us on the trip. He is doubtful for the next two games," Crawford said. "It's a hip flexor injury that he's got and we're hopeful that it settles down. If it settles down and he's able to play, then he'll be back in the lineup. We're hoping that it settles down sometime before sooner rather than later."

The Stars could also get a lift from the possible return of winger Toby Peterson, who has been out since early January with a leg injury.

"Toby Peterson is playing his first game at the American League level tonight. We'll see how he comes through that," Crawford said. "He could be a possibility for us moving forward. I think we might add somebody to our lineup to protect ourselves."

Of course, losing Richards, who has made the Stars offense go all year, is a big blow but don't expect their head coach to play the 'woe is me' card.

There's never good timing for injuries. Because the games are so demanding right now, the games are going to be intense and injuries are a part of the game," Crawford said.

Dallas' road trip starts tomorrow night in Edmonton with the opening face-off set for 8 PM. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.

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