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Monday, February 14, 2011
Injury woes continue for Stars

By Mark Stepneski

The injuries continue to mount for the Dallas Stars. Already missing several forwards, the Stars will be missing center Brad Richards as they open a three-game road trip in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Richards suffered an undisclosed injury on the final shift of Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Columbus at American Airlines Center.

“Brad Richards will not be coming on this trip with us. He suffered an injury on the last shift of the game on a hit in the neutral zone,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said following Monday’s practice in Frisco. “He’s not feeling 100 percent today. Brad would like to join us but we think it is the best measure for him to stay behind and get him back to 100 percent before he rejoins the club. We’re going to be cautious here and do not only what is best for Brad Richards but also for the Dallas Stars.”

Crawford wouldn’t classify Richards’ injury as upper body or lower body, only saying he was hit and was “somewhat shaken by it.”

There is a possibility Richards could rejoin the team for the trip, which also includes a game in Calgary on Wednesday and concludes Saturday in Vancouver.

For now, though, others will have to step up and help fill the void in the absence of Richards, who leads the team in scoring with 24 goals and 39 assists.

“Right now, we’ll probably just use [Tom] Wandell a little bit more,” Crawford said. “I think Jason Williams will get a little bit of power play time and everybody else. You don’t replace a guy like Brad in a short-term thing with just one guy. It’s got to be a whole group effort of guys coming in and giving us a little bit more.”

Richards joins Jamie Benn (shoulder), Adam Burish (orbital bone), Krys Barch (orbital bone), Toby Petersen (leg) and Ray Sawada (shoulder) among the team’s forwards out of the lineup with injuries, but Petersen should be back soon.

He was sent to the Texas Stars on a conditioning assignment, played Texas in Cleveland on Monday and was expected rejoin Dallas on the road trip.

Defenseman Nicklas Grossman, who left in the first period of Sunday’s game will travel with the team but is doubtful for the first two games of the trip with a hip flexor injury.

“We’re hopeful that it settles down. If it settles down he’ll be back in the lineup,” said Crawford. “We’re hopeful that it settles down sooner rather than later.”

Matt Niskanen, who has not played the last three games, will be available to come in on defense for the Stars.

This latest round of injuries come as the Stars try to snap out of a slide that has seen them go 1-4-1 since the All-Star break and 2-6-1 in their last nine games.

“There’s never a good time for injuries, but because the games are so demanding right now the games are going to be intense and injuries are part of the game,” said Crawford. “From that standpoint, we know we have to play a dig in type of game. We’re going to have to get good performances from players that get great opportunities to play.

“We just have to dig in right now. We have to play as tight as hockey as we possibly can to give ourselves an opportunity in these games. We have to concentrate on what we have, not on what we don’t have. We still think we have a lot.”

Man-games lost to injury

Heading into Tuesday’s game the Stars have lost 81 man-games to injury or illness this season, and most of those have come over the last month-and-a-half.

In the first 40 games the Stars lost 31 man-games to injury. In the last 16 games they’ve lost a total of 50 man-games to injury, including 16 over the last four games.

Coyotes knock Stars out of first in Pacific

The Dallas Stars’ 79-day run at the top of the Pacific Division came to an end Monday night. The Phoenix Coyotes moved into first place in the division – one point ahead of the Stars – with a 3-2 victory over Washington. The Stars had been in first in the division since November 27.

Notes

*The Stars recalled LW Francis Wathier from the Texas Stars on Monday.

*The Stars held an optional practice in Frisco on Monday. Among the players on the ice were forwards James Neal, Tom Wandell, Tomas Vincour, Jason Williams, Brian Sutherby and Aaron Gagnon. Defensemen Mark Fistric, Jeff Woywitka and Matt Niskanen also skated. Goaltender Andrew Raycroft was also on the ice.

*Injured forwards Jamie Benn, Krys Barch and Ray Sawada all skated after practice.

*The Stars placed Sawada on injured reserve retroactive to February 3.