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Jason Spezza out 'a week or two, maybe longer'

Stars forward suffered upper-body injury in Thursday's game

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Stars forward Jason Spezza is going to be out a while with an upper-body injury suffered in Thursday's game against the Winnipeg Jets at American Airlines Center.

"He's going to miss some time. He's got an upper-body injury," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "Right now we don't really have a time frame on it, but it's more than days."

Asked for a few more details, Ruff said what the injury wasn't and shed some light on a possible time frame.

"It's not a concussion," Ruff said. "It's going to take a week or two, maybe longer."

Spezza, who has missed seven games this season due to lower-body injuries, was injured Thursday when he was hit hard at the blue line by Jets forward Adam Lowry.

The injury is the latest blow to the Stars who unofficially have lost 223 man-games to injury or illness this season, including 191 to the forward group.

"We have to battle through another injury, but you've got to move on," Ruff said.

Video: Spezza is going to miss time with injury

The Stars coach will also have to make some adjustments to his forward lines, which have worked well in recent games. He said he is reluctant to break up the lines of Jamie Benn-Cody Eakin-Patrick Eaves and Devin Shore-Radek Faksa-Patrick Sharp, which both have been going well. So, the question will be who will take Spezza's place on the line with Tyler Seguin and Antoine Roussel.

"I think short term, maybe restructure who goes up on the right. Whether we put a big guy like [Brett] Ritchie up on the right side, good in puck possession and holding onto the puck, more of a shooter, or whether we try to put more of a playmaker in that situation," Ruff said.

With Spezza going out with the injury the Stars have two forwards available into the lineup with Curtis McKenzie and Jiri Hudler. It appears McKenzie could get the nod right now over Hudler, who hasn't played the past five games.

"[Hudler] just missed the last two days with a family leave, hasn't skated, so now he's got himself in a tough situation again," Ruff said. "It's a decision we're going to have to make. Give him a skate today and go from there, but I think the illness (earlier in the season) put him way behind the eight ball. He was getting close, and I think that the opportunity was there, but I thought other guys have played better."

Jamie Benn on a roll

Stars captain Jamie Benn probably played his best game of the season in Thursday night's 4-3 loss to the Jets. Benn recorded one goal and two assists and was a force in the game throughout the night.

"Just trying to get better and help this team get into a playoff spot," Benn said. "And I know that I need to have a better effort out there in trying to lead these guys. I think that was a step in the right direction, but on the losing end it's still not good enough."

Benn is on a five-game points streak, registering four goals and three assists during that stretch.

"When I look at his numbers, that line (with Benn, Cody Eakin, and Patrick Eaves) playing together, the numbers are good. The numbers and the opportunities are there," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "He had a game there where the puck and the stick looked like opposite magnets, and it was a tough night for him. Last night, puck was on his stick, it was probably his best night with his puck possession creating his own opportunities."

Stars face big test to close out homestand

The Dallas Stars will close out their six-game homestand Saturday, and it will be a test with the Chicago Blackhawks in town. The Stars haven't had much luck against the Blackhawks this season, picking up just one point in three games (0-2-1). They are 2-1-2 so far in the homestand, and a win would give them eight of 12 points.

"It'd be huge," said Stars defenseman Stephen Johns. "Obviously, one of the best teams in the NHL is coming in tomorrow, and it's always fun playing against them. It means a lot, obviously a division game. We're trying to get as many points as we can here, especially at home, and end this homestand on a good note and go on the road trip with a really good feeling."

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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