Stars Look to Build on Recent Success
Tuesday, 12.9.2008 / 5:39 PM CT / News
By Graham Clark - DallasStars.com
The Dallas Stars have compiled a 4-2-0 record over the past six games, but are still looking up at the other teams in the Western Conference standings, albeit through a narrower gap. During this stretch, the Stars have seen Mike Modano score his 1,300th career point, the team record its first two consecutive victories since February 28, 2008 and the club win its first shootout of the season.
More Changes to the Lineup
Two new faces have joined the Stars recently, with Andrew Hutchinson coming from Tampa Bay at the end of November and Tom Wandell being called up from Timra IK of the Swedish Elite League last week. Injuries to the team and the suspension of Sean Avery have been costly to the Stars’ depth. Over the past three games against Edmonton, Calgary and Colorado, the Stars have had no choice but to dress seven defensemen and only 11 forwards.
The personnel losses have created holes in different parts of the Stars’ game, but over the last two weeks other players have stepped in to fill the void. Dallas has five players on the current roster who have skated in games outside the NHL this season.
Known mostly for his offensive talent, center Mike Ribeiro has been used extensively on the penalty kill the past few games because of the injuries to the team.
“Ribeiro has been labeled as an offensive guy but he can think on both sides of the puck and he is a great player because of it,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “He has changed my perception of him as a player since he came to us, now he has done everything we have asked him to do and play the way that we want to play.”
The Dallas Stars have only allowed two power-play goals on 12 attempts over the past four games.
While Ribeiro has stepped up on the penalty kill, center Toby Petersen has stepped up in the scoring department. Petersen is currently on a four-game point streak, lighting the lamp with three goals and one assist in that span. Before his first goal of the season against Edmonton on Nov. 30, his last goal came against Nashville on March 27, 2007 – a drought lasting more than 30 games. The Stars will be looking for more players to step up and continue this turnaround they have started.
Today was only center Tom Wandell’s third practice with the team but he has already made a positive impression on the Stars and looks to make his first NHL start Wednesday night against Phoenix.
“He is a good player with a high level of skill. He is listed as a center but he can play any of the forward positions for us,” Tippett said. “Tom is pretty much an unknown factor at the moment so we are curious to see what we will get out of him tomorrow night.”
The 21-year-old Swedish native spent most of last season with the Iowa Stars, so he already has some experience with the smaller-sized NHL rinks compared to the larger rinks in Europe.
“I am a little nervous of course for my first game but I think I have been able to figure out the hockey over here with my experience in the AHL last year,” he said.
It also does not hurt to have a few players that hail from Sweden, such as Joel Lundqvist, Nicklas Grossman, Fabian Brunnstrom and Loui Eriksson.
“It’s been nice to have other players from Sweden both on and off the ice, so the transition has not been too difficult,” he said.
Joel Lundqvist practiced for the first time with the team Tuesday since injuring his shoulder and being placed on the Injured Reserve list Oct. 31. He wore the red “no contact” jersey to best avoid hits and contact.
“I have been skating by myself for the past five weeks so it was exciting to get back out there with my teammates,” he said. “I do not have my full power yet in my shoulder, and I am not sure when I will be able to play yet.”