CEDAR PARK, Texas — The Dallas Stars are used to dealing with hip injuries.
The Stars have had a laundry list of players undergo surgery on their hips including Jamie Benn, John Klingberg, and Ales Hemsky. Curtis McKenzie also had hip problems during the 2015-16 season but never had surgery.
It’s a difficult injury and one that Hemsky recently said will take a player, “at least a year,” before they are feeling 100 percent.
That’s what Jason Dickinson has been dealing with this season. The Texas Stars forward had hip surgery last summer and has been trying to work his way back to 100 percent throughout the season.
“It’s been a constant process,” Dickinson said after Texas lost 5-1 to the Iowa Wild. “I’m not at 100 percent yet, but I feel like I get better everyday. I feel like the stuff where doing on our off days really help get it better. It’s working and it’s really helping me.”
I came down to watch Texas about a month a ago and Dickinson didn’t impress me like he did during his rookie season (when he should have been an AHL all-rookie selection). He had other key elements of his game, but his skating didn’t seem up to par.
“I think a month ago when you were down here I started playing a lot more with the Dowling injury and the maybe my hip wasn’t ready for that yet, I thought it would be but it started to take a little bit more of a tax on it,” Dickinson said. “It was just something I had to figure out. Now I’m sticking with the minutes and I’m feeling a lot better.”
Dickinson’s minutes jumped from roughly 12 minutes per game to 15 minutes per game during that time because he started playing more on the penalty kill.
On Friday he looked much more comfortable and natural playing the wing, where he’s been playing for the past month. Dickinson killed penalties, was in on offensive chances, and didn’t look hindered by the injury.
Dickinson said it’s a day-by-day feel with the injury. Some days he’ll take off practice after a game, while he’s talked with McKenzie quite a bit about how to handle the ailment.
“He’s had to work through injuries, talking to him and how he responded,” Dickinson said. “He’s been doing a good job of maintaining and managing it well.”
Julius Honka is ready for the NHL, he shouldn’t be playing in the AHL anymore.
Yes, he still has some defensive issues to work out, but he’s not fixing them in the AHL.
Honka’s gap control and play away from the puck need to improve, but he should be able to work through that in the NHL — especially with Dallas realistically out of the playoff picture.
Honka knows what he can get away with in the AHL — for example at one point he used one hand to keep the puck in the offensive zone while being pressured by a defender — and he’s fast enough to make up for mistakes. He doesn’t lack for confidence, that’s just his personality, and I don’t think there’s much more he can gain from playing in the AHL.
This was my first chance to watch Dillon Heatherington in person since the Stars acquired him in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Lauri Korpikoski.
He was paired with Honka, a former WHL teammate with the Swift Current Broncos, and played the “stay-at-home, defense first,” that he described to me at Friday’s morning skate.
Heatherington is positionally sound defensively and is often in the right spot. He did get caught flatfooted on the first goal, but that was the only noticeable mistake.
I’ll have more on Heatherington for subscribers (if you haven’t subscribed, you should) on Sunday and Monday. Sunday will be my full scouting report on Heatherington and Mark McNeil (the other recently acquired player) and Monday the insider feature will be on Heatherington.
Justin Peters only lasted 13 minutes and 27 seconds in the first period and was pulled after allowing two goals on three shots.
The first goal was a power play breakaway that beat Peters along the ice. The second was a five-hole shot that hd didn’t react to.
Fatigue might have been a factor. Since arriving in a trade to the Stars, Peters had started 15 of the last 16 games.
Maxime Lagace stopped 15 of 18 shots in relief. He got caught swimming on the first goal he allowed to Mark Sdao, who isn’t known for his offensive ability.
Odds and ends
–Denis Gurianov looked good in just his second game back from a lower-body injury. He made a nice play on Ethan Werek’s second-period goal when he faked a shot and made a slap pass to the front of the net.
–Gemel Smith looked very good. Was all over the offensive zone and had a couple chances turned away.
–Alex Stalock made the game more interesting. The Iowa goalie likes to roam and play the puck, while he drew the fans ire when he was slashed in the corner and played it up quite a bit.
–It’s weird to me seeing former Texas Stars captain Maxime Fortunus play for another team. He has two assists in the game.