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Injury Bug

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

That frickin' injury bug is laying eggs again.

Remember it last year? The little bugger showed up just after the Stars had won their record 8th straight road game (Benn and Wandell went down in Vancouver) and then a full blown infestation broke out that night in Beantown (Barch, Burish, Sawada), followed later by a "light and bite" at home vs Columbus (Richards).

Six forwards is a lot to absorb, and they didn't. Especially difficult when a gallant Morrow, a dinged up Ott, and a recovering Petersen are added to the predicament. Oh ya, and Nick Grossman was lost from the d-corp.

This time the pestilence has come on earlier but is threatening to be just as wide-spread. First there was the win streak (They were first overall as they left the ice in Washington) Then came the Goligoski broken hand, followed by the Burish broken hand, then the Morrow injury which led to last night's Decimation in the Desert (Lehtonen, Daley, Fiddler).


So, how will this group and coaching staff handle the crap cards dealt?

Well they can use the Pittsburgh Penguins as a model.

Dan Bylsma kept his Pens winning despite the loss of hockey's best player for 11 months. (And there were others, lots of other bodies unavailable due to injury besides Crosby, including Evgeni Malkin. Tough losses.)

How did the Penguins hold it together? Strong team game. Good discipline. Asphyxiating PK. Excellent road success. Shootouts extra points. Depth. Breakout seasons from unheralded guys. And most importantly, smart, prepared, game-manipulating coaching.

Of course what also helped the Penguins was goalie Marc Andre Fleury remained a healthy rock in the pipes. That's the one position that can mask a team's ills and that's what makes the loss of Lehtonen a tad troubling. Fleury was their MVP last season, Kari was 1/4 of the way to the same title this year with the Stars. The extent of the big Finns injury is not fully known but groins are tricky - especially for that position - and they have a habit of lingering/reoccurring when suffered in-season.

Maybe the focus or mantra going forward needs to be "Misfortune = Opportunity". Opportunity to band together. Opportunity to see what others have. Opportunity to see how good you are. Opportunity to be a much better team when health returns.

In the meantime, someone call the exterminator. A fumigation is needed pronto.

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