On Thursday night, the Stars’ 5-2 preseason loss to the Wild teetered on the edge of jittery and worrisome, a throwaway exhibition rendered meaningful by a pair of injury scares at the American Airlines Center.
One avoided panic. The other ushered concern.
Ty Dellandrea did not play the game’s final 33 minutes due to what was officially labeled an upper-body injury. He blocked a Jonas Brodin shot with his right hand, struggled to grip his stick with that hand before heading to the bench and, eventually, down the tunnel.
After the game, Stars coach Pete DeBoer said Dellandrea broke a bone in the tip of his finger and will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks.
Roope Hintz, meanwhile, missed the final 12 minutes of the first period after Wild forward Brandon Baddock leveled him with a late hit in the neutral zone. Baddock was issued a five-minute major and a game misconduct for interference, and Hintz returned during the first intermission after clearing concussion protocol.
“It’s a dirty play,” DeBoer said. “Liberties taken with a really good player that’s unnecessary. Anytime you’re dealing with concussion protocol, that’s the kind of stuff we’re trying to get out of the game. … I think guys are fairly respectful. I think everyone plays hard. But you get the odd case where you see what happens tonight. You hate to see that.”
The two incidents (plus Tyler Seguin’s head-first crash into the boards behind the net) sullied what had been a healthy preseason for the Stars, and Hintz’s scare offered a peek into the fragility of Dallas’ offense in its current state.
“That’s part of getting ready for the season,” DeBoer said. “That’s why you play these exhibition games. You’ve got to get in and get in front of some live bullets, so to speak. There’s going to be some bumps and bruises because of that.”
When Hintz went down the tunnel, it conjured memories of past seasons.
In 2019, he played Game 7 against the Blues with a fractured foot. In 2020, he was unable to complete the Stanley Cup Final after injuring his hip — and previously breaking his ankle. In 2021, he played almost an entire season with a torn adductor tendon in his groin. Even this spring, he was a late scratch in Game 7 against Calgary after he had a reaction to treatment for an oblique injury.
“I just didn’t see where he was coming from,” Hintz said of Baddock’s hit. “I didn’t except it.”
Hintz’s role on the Stars cannot be overstated as October nears.
He’s one of the sure things on the Dallas roster, which is hoping for increased production from veterans like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, and potentially counting on skilled youngsters to take a step forward. But Hintz is the 25-year-old two-way center that’s been nearly a point-per-game player in the last two seasons. He’s also in camp, which is not the case for Jason Robertson as he and the Stars try to settle a contract dispute.
The Stars need Hintz healthy. They’re glad they left Thursday night with him that way.
Dellandrea’s contributions are not as certain. He was battling for a roster spot entering Thursday night, as the 22-year-old was looking to make the jump from AHL standout to NHL regular. His performance in Game 7 in Calgary helped his case entering the fall, as did his 50-point campaign in the minors.
As a bottom-six disturber with bite, Dellandrea can fill a role in Dallas as a versatile penalty-killing forward. Spots on the roster were available, and Thursday’s injury will prevent him from chasing a job temporarily.
“He’s put a good showing in and he got injured doing what we ask him to do, which is block a shot and play hard,” DeBoer said. “That’s how you’ve got to play a game, that’s part of it. I think if you’re going to get injured, now’s a better time than 2-3 weeks from now. I liked his game tonight and he’s had a good camp.”
Grushnikov sent down: The Stars made one cut to their preseason roster on Thursday morning, sending defenseman Artem Grushnikov back to OHL Hamilton. Grushnikov — a second-round pick in 2021 — was injured during the first preseason game on Monday night and did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Dealt with a minor injury, made a good impression, though,” DeBoer said. “He’s still a young guy. To get thrown into that first game, I think it was a lot to ask, but he got his feet wet. Unfortunately, got dinged up a little bit. He’s good now, it’s nothing long term.”
Grushnikov cannot play for AHL affiliate Texas until his OHL season in Hamilton is over.
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