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Down to the Wire

Stars Focused on Finishing Season Strong

Tuesday, 03.04.2008 / 4:50 PM / Feature
By Dallas Stars Staff
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Down to the Wire

The Dallas Stars are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, winning 13 of the last 16 games. Unfortunately for them, two teams are just as, if not more, hot than the Stars and they happen to both be in the Pacific Division.

The Anaheim Ducks are 10-1 in their last 11 games while the San Jose Sharks have won six in a row. Both squads won big games at home against some of the top teams in the East on Monday evening, chipping away at Dallas’ lead in the division.

But while the Stars do watch the standings on a daily basis, they are more concerned with their own play and winning the only games they can control – their own.

“We know that if we take care of our own business, everything else will take care of itself,” said Brenden Morrow. We’re playing some desperate teams right now and we like to raise our intensity and our desperation levels too. These teams we are playing like Phoenix, Vancouver and Nashville are fighting for a playoff spot. But we are fighting for home ice and winning the division. There are things we need to focus on too like taking care of our game and winning the games we can control."

The Stars control their own destiny, as they will play the final eight games of the season against all of the teams in the Pacific. All of the games will be big and should make for an interesting stretch run.

"If you look at the overall points, three of the top five or six teams in the league are in one division,” said Head Coach Dave Tippett. “We have games against them, we are battling for position with them, and we better make sure our game is in order. You look at both of those teams (Anaheim and San Jose) and they look like they are building right now. We need to continue to build our group."

Dallas has played 69 games on the season - the most in the Western Conference. Anaheim and San Jose can pull closer by winning their games in-hand, but it probably will still come down to the head-to-head match-ups.

"The standings have been tight from start to finish, and the teams that can string it together the longest will come on top," said Mike Modano. "We are going to get caught up in games played here soon. It's important that we take care of those games until we are all evened out in that situation. It may come down to the very last games. We have our work cut out for us. We’ve held up our own lately but we have to continue to win."

The Stars have been red-hot since the All-Star Break but Tippett is quick to point out that they haven’t clinched anything yet. The focus is on continuing to play well and hit the post-season on a high note.

"I would rather be going in making sure you play well on the way in,” he said. “I think you carry your momentum into the playoffs. Let's not get ahead of ourselves; we haven't made anything yet. Let's put things in perspective here. This is all well and good, and everybody's talking about playoffs. We are still along ways away from playoffs."

Dallas hosts Phoenix on Wednesday (7:30 pm, FSN, WBAP). Get tickets here.

Petersen Added

The Stars recalled center Toby Petersen from the Iowa Stars on Tuesday. Petersen has 21 goals and 51 points this season, leading Iowa in scoring in 63 games. He has 155 games of NHL experience and adds some depth to the Stars’ roster.

"When Jokinen and Halpern were traded, those were two guys who could play center for us,” Tippett said. “We are looking to adding another depth player that can play center for us. We want to get Petersen integrated with our team. He has been arguably their best player in Iowa so now he'll come and spend the rest of the year with us and make sure he's ready."

Injury Update

Tippett said Tuesday that defenseman Matt Niskanen might return on Wednesday vs. Phoenix.

"He looked pretty good today, so we'll see," Tippett said. "There is an old saying, ‘You can play hurt but you can't play injured.’ When you get injured you’ve got to take the time to heal and then move forward. It's not going to be the last injury he has because he's going to have a long career. We have to make sure he’s ready."

Mike Ribeiro (elbow) and Brad Richards (ill) both did not skate with the team on Tuesday but are expected to play on Wednesday.

"Ribeiro skated earlier and he'll be fine. It looks like he will be good,” Tippett said. “I think both he and Richards will be players (Wednesday)."

Sergei Zubov continues to rehab his foot and still is shooting for a return to skating in a couple of weeks.




1 NSH 63 41 15 7 191 151 89
2 ANA 63 39 17 7 186 176 85
3 STL 61 39 18 4 190 152 82
4 CHI 63 37 21 5 183 150 79
5 WPG 63 31 20 12 174 170 74
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 61 32 22 7 173 160 71
8 LAK 61 29 20 12 164 157 70
9 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
10 SJS 62 30 24 8 173 177 68
11 COL 62 27 24 11 166 179 65
12 DAL 62 27 25 10 195 207 64
13 ARI 63 20 36 7 138 214 47
14 EDM 62 18 34 10 142 206 46


J. Benn 62 23 37 -1 60
T. Seguin 55 29 30 0 59
J. Spezza 62 15 37 -3 52
E. Cole 57 18 15 4 33
T. Daley 59 16 16 -9 32
J. Klingberg 48 10 22 2 32
C. Eakin 59 14 14 -2 28
A. Hemsky 56 9 17 -7 26
A. Goligoski 62 2 24 2 26
A. Roussel 60 12 11 -11 23
K. Lehtonen 25 13 10 .905 2.97
J. Enroth 13 24 2 .900 3.31
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