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Playing Together

Monday, 10.13.2008 / 7:05 PM / Feature
By Dallas Stars Staff
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Playing Together

The Stars were back at work in Frisco on Monday. The team had a spirited practice that focused on getting back to the fundamentals of playing as a unit.

“Working together was our goal today,” said Head Coach Dave Tippett. “We have some players that have put in some good work, just not together. This was about working together today; Working as a group and not as an individual.”

Another main focus for the team these days is special teams. Dallas has scored just one power play goal in 12 chances over the first two games, something the Stars would like to change.

“We are working hard on the power play but the shots are just not getting in the net,” said Mike Modano. “We have to create more chances by skating in and out of the zone. It’s getting harder and harder to shoot in traffic because everyone on the ice is looking to block the shot. It is frustrating but we are working through it.”

Without Sergei Zubov on the blue line to quarterback the power play, the Stars have been looking for different combinations to get things going. Stephane Robidas and Philippe Boucher have experience on the point and Matt Niskanen will get more playing time in that role as well. It’s all about finding the right chemistry.

“I have been getting a few reps working the point on the power play but the power play has not come around a ton yet for us,” said Niskanen. “We had a few spurts but we have to get more consistent at it and find ways to get more pucks at the net and some will start going in for us.” 

Dallas gave up two power play goals at Nashville on Saturday night, a big reason why they dropped a 3-1 decision. It could have been a lot worse but Marty Turco played very well and kept the Stars in the game with some great stops with the Predators on a man-advantage.

“We made a couple mistakes on the penalty kill (at Nashville) and you have to be strong on both sides of special teams,” said Tippett. “We have to be on the plus-side of the ledger in that respect. We generated a lot of chances on the power play but the pucks were just not rolling our way. Our penalty kill gave up way to many chances on Saturday night.”

The Stars are focusing on improving both the power play and penalty kill – something they see as a huge part of finding success

“Special teams are very important,” said Tippett. “In games you summarize that everyone is going to play hard you take that out so, each game comes down to goaltending, special teams which can be caused by good calls or bad calls and luck. If everything is going to cancel out you have to find an advantage with special teams.”

And of course a hockey team in the NHL cannot find success without an outstanding effort every night. Dallas had that during the playoffs last season and it helped them gel and take them all the way to the Western Conference Finals. The Stars want to get that effort back.

“We have not played into our team identity yet,” said Niskanen. “We are a solid positional team but for the most part we are a harder-working team and we just have not found a way to win yet.” 

Jere Lehtinen skated on his own prior to practice and Mike Ribeiro was not on the ice as well due to an undisclosed injury. Tippett said that both might be on the ice with the team tomorrow.

The Stars host the Nashville Predators on Wednesday at 7:30 pm (FSN, News/Talk 820 WBAP). Good seats are still available -- get yours here.

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