Add leading scorer Brad Richards to the Dallas Stars' list of injuries that has dragged their NHL season from surprising to so-so.
The scrappy Stars jumped to an impressive start, getting even skeptical hockey neophytes like myself to pay attention. But somewhat lost in the middle of Super Bowl XLV and the Dallas Mavericks' return from the grave, the Stars have fallen back to Earth.
Richards, the team leader in goals, assists and points, won't join the Stars on their three-game road trip out west this week. As per hockey tradition, we're left to guess what Richards' injury is because team and coach Marc Crawford won't specify.
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Richards joins on the injury list forwards Jamie Benn, Toby Peterson and Krys Barch, big reasons the Stars were atop the Western Conference standings for most of the year. Dallas is also without one of its top defenseman - Nicklas Grossman - for the next two games.
Crippled by missing players, the short-handed Stars are only 1-4-1 since the All-Star break and have won only two of their last nine games to fall out of first place in the Pacific Division and are now only three points ahead of 8th-place Minnesota in the West.
With the departures of Mike Modano and Marty Turco leaving Dallas with a stable of young, untested players, everything had to go right for this to be a magical season. For the time being, injuries are deteriorating that magic into mediocrity.