Stars Head West
Wednesday, 03.26.2008 / 5:16 PM / News
By Dallas Stars Staff
The Stars departed on Wednesday afternoon for a trip out west. First up is a date with the red-hot San Jose Sharks, who have gone 14-0-2 in their last 16 games.
There are six games left in the regular season and the Stars want to get back on the winning track and back to playing good hockey.
“I think the stretch we have had has been a difficult one and the race is so tight out here in the west,” said Stu Barnes. “In our situation we have to start winning some games, and we have six games here to do that. Like everyone else in the league, you are trying to become the best team you can right now. Hopefully we can go out on the road and put some wins together.”
Dallas is 3-0 at San Jose this season and enjoy playing there. It’s a loud atmosphere and a place where the games are always exciting. The Stars are itching to get back to playing in a real game, as they have been through some hard workouts over the last few days.
“We’ll see how we respond tomorrow,” said Mike Modano. “It’s a big game, we have had some tough skates and practices here trying to get the effort and hard work back into our game so it happens automatically. You don’t want to think about it. We’ll see how we respond tomorrow, the points are very valuable right now.”
The standings are tight. Dallas is currently in fifth place in the western conference but that can change overnight. But the Stars are more worried about their play and getting that corrected. Then everything else will take care of itself.
“This is a really exciting time of the year,” said Niklas Hagman. “Playoffs are right around the corner and now we just have to take care of business and make ourselves into playoff form. You notice from the guys that everyone here knows the situation and we know we are a better team than we have shown lately. Other teams have played well it just hasn’t clicked for us. We know that once we get our game going we are a really tough team to beat.”
Dallas closes out the season with six games in 11 days – a busy schedule that they look forward too.
“Our team really needs a road trip right now, we have been home for too long,” said Tippett. “The guys are looking forward to getting on the road with some tough games, and every point is very valuable. Our guys had a great day on the ice today and hopefully we carry that into tomorrow.”
Sergei Zubov practiced with the team on Wednesday, participating in most of the drills. He is hopeful to be back in the line up soon.
“ He is still day to day and still dealing with some issues until he can get up and going at full speed, but it is great to see him out there,” said Tippett. “He knows his limitations right now and what he can and can’t do. He’s out there and he’s working and he is making progress. Hopefully he’ll make the lineup before the end of the season.”
Philippe Boucher, however, is getting close to returning, perhaps as soon as Thursday at San Jose.
“Boucher went hard today but we’ll have to re-evaluate it tomorrow morning to see where he’s at,” said Tippett. “He is getting pretty close though.”
Boucher is feeling much better and wants to get back in the lineup soon.
“You always want to be part of it,” said Boucher. “It’s been hard watching, then I was extremely excited to come back. Then I hit another bump in the road. But you always want to be back, no matter if the team is doing good or bad. This is just a little bit of a struggle to go through, but I really want to be part of the playoffs, and so far I’m doing good and looking forward to helping the team.”
Both veteran defensemen would be a shot in the arm for the team.
“Both players are All-Star players and a big part of our team,” said Barnes. “The guys have done a great job without them in the lineup, but anytime you can add a couple guys like that especially this time of year it’s a big bonus.”
“I think we can add something to the team, but the team has been doing well all year, with or without us,” added Boucher. “This is a very good team that can do some damage. We’re struggling right now through ups and downs, and obviously we didn’t start the season how we wanted. Then we were a very good team, one of the best in the league.”