A tour of the Dallas Stars' trainers' room could give fans a glimpse of the club's top players in Mike Modano, Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov. Zubov, the team's top defenceman, had elbow surgery Friday and will be out two weeks, joining star forwards Modano (hip/groin) and Morrow (wrist) on the sidelines.
"That's all three of our captains right there," Stars head coach Dave Tippett said Friday.
And it doesn't end there. Forwards Steve Ott (ankle) and Matthew Barnaby (concussion), backup goalie Mike Smith (concussion) and defenceman Darryl Sydor (upper body) are also out.
"Most of the key parts of our team, yes," said Tippett, sounding frustrated.
At least the latter group is day to day. But the three key guys aren't. Modano and Zubov are out until after the all-star break while for Morrow it's a mid-March return.
The Stars (26-18-1) had a good first half of the season and sit sixth in the Western Conference with 53 points but now have to hold on for dear life over the next while.
"It's not as if we can just rest on our laurels or rest on our points," said Tippett. "We have to find ways to get points right now no matter who's in our lineup."
The Stars have lost three straight and have won only once in their last six games (1-4-1). They don't play again until Monday at home to Los Angeles.
"Our team is very average right now with these injuries we have, and our goaltender has been below average," said Tippett. "That's why we're getting the results we have."
Taking a page from John Tortorella's book in Tampa, Tippett didn't hide how disappointed he was starting goalie Marty Turco.
"Our goaltender can't be average or below average. He has to be top notch," Tippett said. "Last night his save percentage was .750 and the game before .850 and our room for error is very slim right now with all these people out. The goaltender has to be good."
Turco has allowed 17 goals in his last six games for a 3.68 goals-against average and .852 save percentage. Overall, however, his 2.34 GAA and .910 save percentage are good numbers on the season.
Aside from the goaltending, the rest of the team has to pull up its socks.
"You have to make sure your competitive level is at top notch," said Tippett. "You have some younger people that are going to be cast into roles where it might be above their heard but you'll certainly get a great measuring stick where they're at."
Keeping the morale positive right now isn't easy.
"It's a struggle but the bottom line is that you can't feel sorry for yourself," said Tippett. "You've got people on your team, some of them that were in the minors, that want a bigger role and are getting the opportunity.
"It'll tell a lot about our team what these people do with that opportunity."
Zubov, meanwhile, timed the surgery so he'll miss only three games thanks to the five-day, all-star break from Jan. 20-25. He played in Thursday night's 5-1 loss to Anaheim before having the surgery Friday morning.
"He's been bothered by this for a while," said Tippett. "It's just a scope so it's a couple of weeks. We picked this time because we wanted to incorporate the all-star break. This is when he's going to miss the least amount of games he can."
Modano has missed 18 games. He had 20 points (10-10) in 27 games before going down.