Stars Put in the Practice Time
Monday, 10.15.2007 / 5:14 PM CT / Feature
The Stars got back to work on Monday morning at the Frisco Dr Pepper StarCenter and made the most of their time. With just one game over a span of seven days (Wednesday at Columbus), the team held not one, but two sessions on the ice, with a team meeting in-between. All told, the session lasted just under two hours and left the team feeling ready to step up its play.
The entire team was disappointed with the result out of Chicago, a 2-1 loss in overtime. Despite gaining a point in the standings, the Stars were not happy with their approach to the game, especially in the third period in which they were out-shot 20-4.
“It’s just the way we lost,” said Boucher. “When you’re not on your game you find ways to win games anyway and we were almost there in Chicago. We let it slip at the end. Sometimes you get what you deserve. They outworked us a little and they got two points at the end.”
The team is determined to not let that happen again. Getting outworked is unacceptable to this group that hangs it hat on game day effort and being prepared.
“We knew we had some work to do today,” said Head Coach Dave Tippett. “We took Sunday off and made sure we were rested. The long practice today was more in conjunction with the schedule and the opportunity to get some work in. It was a longer day but we have a lot we want to accomplish.”
The Stars’ goal is always to win the Stanley Cup and that starts with making the playoffs. Tippett will be the first to tell you that the easiest way to make the playoffs is to win your division. Dallas’ 2-2-2 record to start the season is not what they wanted, but it still is enough to have them at the top of the Pacific Division standings after two weeks of regular season play. The Stars know they have to start winning to stay in first place and there is no time like the present.
“When you look at our division, nobody has really jumped out of the gate hard and the one that does get it going early has a tremendous opportunity,” Tippett said. “You don’t want to miss the boat. We want to put the work in that we need and get back on track.”
After Columbus on Wednesday, the Stars play nine of the next 10 against Pacific Division foes, including four in a row.
“Those are huge games coming up,” said winger Niklas Hagman. “Right now in our division, whoever gets their game going can gain some ground. I’m sure the other teams in the division are saying the same thing. We just have to play a little bit better. It’s going to come and we’re going to start winning more games. Right now the division is wide open and there is an opportunity to gain some ground.”
Tippett said that Marty Turco is day-to-day with stiffness in his thigh area. He will skate on Tuesday and is questionable for Wednesday’s game at Columbus. Tobias Stephan got his first NHL start on Saturday and played admirably, stopping 38-of-40 shots in the 2-1 loss, a game in which he clearly deserved a better fate.
“I just want to make sure I’m healthy when I get back and be able to contribute when called upon,” Smith said. “I feel pretty good. I’ve just been trying to get my legs back under me by skating a bit the last few days. I’m feeling like I am back to normal. It was just a bone bruise on my wrist. It will be sore for a little while but nothing I can’t play with. I’m excited about getting back in there and helping the team succeed and gets some wins.”
Turco’s minor injury will probably give Smith a chance to contribute more at an important time. Tippett made no secret that the team wants Smith to play a bit more and give Turco less of a workload. Expect to see Smith between the pipes a little more often.
“You never wish an injury upon anyone but it’s going to give me the opportunity to get in some games and get in a little rhythm and feel good about my game,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting some wins.”
The Stars are ready to get some consistency back in their play and string together some wins.
“We’re not into a full rhythm as a team yet,” Tippett said. “The good thing about it is that the players all recognize that and we’re all working towards it. When we do get it all working, we’ll be in good shape.”