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Hemsky back on IR, Spezza questionable for Tuesday

As injury list grows, Stars recall Justin Dowling from AHL

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

The list of injured Dallas Stars forwards continues to grow. Ales Hemsky reinjured his groin in Saturday's game against Columbus and is back on injured reserve. Jason Spezza left Monday's practice early with an undisclosed injury, and his status for Tuesday's game against Winnipeg is unclear. 

Hemsky had just returned to the lineup Saturday after missing the first four games of the season with a groin injury he suffered at the World Cup of Hockey in September. The groin issue flared up again on Saturday.

"I don't think he was ever ready to go. He was close, wanted to play," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We all know Ales; when he is going, he is flying. Halfway through the game, he was struggling again."

As for Spezza, there wasn't much information other than he was unable to finish Monday's practice.

"Spezz left practice with something he irritated last game," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said.

Ruff said he wasn't sure about Spezza's status for Tuesday's game against Winnipeg, so Spezza is in the questionable category right now.

Video: Ruff gives a team injury update

With the list of injured Dallas forwards getting longer, the Stars recalled center Justin Dowling from Texas of the AHL. Dowling had a good training camp and preseason with Dallas and is tied for second in scoring in the AHL with eight points (two goals, six assists) in five games.

As for the other injured Dallas forwards, Patrick Eaves appears to be the closest to returning. Eaves didn't skate Monday, but Ruff said Eaves "could play" Tuesday. Patrick Sharp (concussion-like symptoms) is not skating. Jiri Hudler (illness) skated on his own in Frisco Monday but is still not ready to play.

Also not practicing Monday was Stars captain Jamie Benn. Ruff said it was a maintenance day for Benn and that he would be a player on Tuesday.

So, here's the status of the Dallas injured forwards: Spezza (questionable), Eaves (questionable), Hemsky (out/IR), Hudler (out/IR), Sharp (out/IR), Eakin (out/IR), Janmark (out/IR).

Trying to get back on track

It was back to work Monday for the Stars as they try to bounce back from a dismal 3-0 loss to Columbus Saturday at American Airlines Center. There was plenty to work on both off the ice and on it.

"Based on Saturday's game, it was a long list," said defenseman Dan Hamhuis. "We talked about a lot of stuff today, looked at video. There's a lot of system stuff, but in the end, it comes down to working harder, working smarter and that's something we tried to address today in practice."

Stars coach Lindy Ruff talked about a few of the specifics.

"From our defensive zone posture to coming back and doing the right thing in our end, and to leaving our end," Ruff said. "You have to work incredibly hard now in the offensive zone to create chances. Once the team is organized in the defensive end, there aren't going to be 'A' chances. I think part of our problem [Saturday] was our guys got frustrated with how hard Columbus was backchecking. I said get used to it; we are probably going to see it another 75 games. We dealt with that this morning; don't get frustrated with today's game. They worked hard to get back; they worked hard to take our ice away. We had to work harder to get it back, and we didn't."

Defense juggling?

Stars coach Lindy Ruff expressed some concerns about his defense following Saturday's loss to Columbus and in Monday's practice he rolled out some different defense pairs. In no particular order, they looked like this:

Patrik Nemeth - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Jordie Benn
Dan Hamhuis - Esa Lindell
Jamie Oleksiak - Stephen Johns

Asked if he was thinking about changing up the defense, Ruff had this to say: "Possibly. There's got to be a sense of accountability of how we play on the backend. If you are going to struggle on the backend, we've got guys that are going to step in and play. … That's part of playing in the NHL. To stay in the lineup you've got to play well."

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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