It was a busy day on the transaction front for the Dallas Stars. Forward Patrick Eaves went on injured reserve and will be out for extended time. The Stars recalled left wing Curtis McKenzie and goaltender Jussi Rynnas from the AHL. And goaltender Anders Lindback is on waivers.
Eaves was injured Tuesday night in Toronto when he was hit near his right ankle with a puck late in the second period. It doesn’t look good.
“The initial fear is that it is pretty bad,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “It’s definitely broken. Now, it is how it has to be dealt with. The best case is four to six (weeks), and the worst case is three months. So it is somewhere in that range, depending on what our doctors say.”
This is the fifth time McKenzie has been called up from the AHL this season. He has one goal in nine games with Dallas. With Eaves out for an extended time, this is an opportunity for McKenzie. And Colton Sceviour as well.
“We lost a right winger, so we have to make some adjustments,” Ruff said. “We’ve got Sceviour still. We’ve got to put him in a position to decide if he can be that player for us or if he is just going to be that extra guy. You can’t do it with two guys, so let’s find about him first. If he can, we are in a good place.”
On the goaltending front, Rynnas comes to Dallas after a solid start with Texas, posting a 5-1-4 record, 2.58 goals against average and .913 save percentage. Lindback, who is 0-5-0 with a 4.63 goals against average and .861 save percentage, will head to the Texas Stars if he clears waivers.
“From what I’ve heard [Rynnas] has played well,” Ruff said. “We need Lindback to go play some games. He’s obviously struggled with his lack of playing time and his starts. The best thing is for him to go play. That will give him an opportunity if he goes through. This gives Rynnas, who went down and played well, an opportunity.”
The Stars signed Rynnas to a two-year, one-way contract in July. He spent last season in Finland’s top league where he put up some impressive numbers. This is Rynnas’ second time playing in North America. The 26-year-old Finnish native played for the Toronto organization for three seasons, most of it in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies, from 2010-13. He was expected to come in and push Lindback for the backup position, and he’s pushed himself into an opportunity now.
“It’s a tough competition, so you just have to keep pushing all the time,” Rynnas said. “You’ll get your chance sooner or later if you work hard.”
The call-up of Rynnas comes at a time when the Stars are struggling to keep pucks out of their net, and their goaltending has been an issue. The Stars rank 30th in the league in goals against at 3.52 per game and their save percentage of .893 ranks 29th.
“There have been good saves, but the tough goals have been going in,” said Ruff. “It’s got to be better, but we have to be more consistent, too.”
Kari Lehtonen has a 4.10 goals against average and .888 save percentage over his last seven starts. Lehtonen said after Tuesday’s 5-3 loss in Toronto that the rough patch hasn’t shaken his confidence.
“No, I’ve been playing in this league and I’ve had some bad stretches,” Lehtonen said. “I can’t get worried. Keep believing in this locker room and keep believing in my skill, and good things will happen.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.