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Getting Back to Basics Has Served Stars Well During Current Streak

Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 7:37 PM CT / News
By Steve Hunt
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Getting Back to Basics Has Served Stars Well During Current Streak

As can often happen in the National Hockey League, things have quickly turned around for the Dallas Stars over the past week. The Stars (32-26-4, 68 points) are currently on a three-game winning streak after Friday’s 4-1 win over the Wild, a game that also marked their first victory of the season in the second game of a back-to-back.

Friday’s victory came just one day removed from a 3-1 win at Chicago and three days after a 3-0 triumph at Montreal that ended a three-game road losing streak. In short, things are definitely looking up for the Stars and this recent surge is definitely due to focusing on all those little things that can add up to a winning formula.

“We got a little bit more focus on our starts and a little bit of our puck play has been our focus, our puck management,” Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said after an optional practice on Saturday. “We’re doing some of the little defensive things that help you keep things tight and win and we’re doing them consistently. That’s what’s enabled us to keep the shots down and the goals against down.”

Gulutzan then added that he feels like there has been some luck involved, but elaborated by saying that when you go to the net on a consistent basis, a team can create its own luck.

“I would say that we’ve gotten some bounces a little bit as far as creating our own bounces. We’ve gotten to the net pretty well,” he said. “We’ve put pucks there, got some screens, tips and I think we’ve done a good job of that.”

Rookie winger Tomas Vincour agrees it doesn’t matter how they score or how pretty a goal is, as long as they find the back of the net and keep winning, which is all that matters this time of year.

“Getting pucks to the net, going to the net and get those greasy goals because this is the time of year that every point matters. It doesn’t matter if you score a pretty goal or an ugly goal, every goal counts,” Vincour said. “We have to be greasy and go to the net hard.”

Veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray agrees that returning to a formula that worked for them earlier in the year, when they got off to a great start under Gulutzan, has been a big factor in their recent success.

“Sometimes simplifying things is definitely the way to go. We got confidence out of that little winning streak we went on. We learned how to play the right way and then we kind of got away from it, thinking that maybe we could play a different way, try to get cute and get results that way,” Souray said.

He added: “We kind of lost our identity there for a second, but I think over the past little bit guys have worked real hard for each other, wanted to simplify things, just do their own jobs and do them well. It’s served us real well because we’re not a fancy team. To be quite honest, we’re not as good as some of the teams that have all that talent. We have to play a certain way and everyone has to play that way. If we don’t it’s noticeable and know it for sure.”

Other than the attention to detail, the Stars have also gotten rock-solid goaltending from both starter Kari Lehtonen and rookie backup Richard Bachman since the All-Star break. Dallas has also gotten strong contributions on both ends of the ice from both Mike Ribeiro and Michael Ryder as they have combined for a total of 26 points in the 14 games since the break.

“He [Ryder] has been very good for us. It seems like the more important the game, the better Ryds goes and we need that,” Gulutzan said. “We’ve got 20 important ones [left].”

The Stars head coach heaped similar praise on Ribeiro but added that part of the reason for his recent surge has been that he’s shooting the puck more.

“Yeah, Ribs has been real good. I think the biggest thing with Ribbie is he’s simplified his game. He’s shooting the puck more,” Gulutzan said. “He’s shot the puck more and in consequence, the other guys have scored more because they’re getting on the net. He needs to shoot more. He can be a 20-goal guy. He thinks so too.”

Ryder attributes his and Ribeiro’s production thus far in the second half to them being very comfortable skating together as well as with linemate Loui Eriksson.

“Maybe we’re getting a little more used to each other and getting a better feel. Loui’s playing with us and he’s been good all year. It’s the time of year where we’ve got to make a push, get on a roll and try to make a playoff spot,” Ryder said. “We knew that we had to try and contribute as much as we can both offensively and defensively to do that.”

The Stars will go for a fourth straight win on Sunday afternoon against Vancouver, a team they have yet to face this season. The Canucks are currently on a two-game winning streak and besides holding the league’s best record at 40-16-6 and 86 points, the reigning Western Conference champions are also an NHL-best 22-10-2 away from home and 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.

“They’ve got a great team and they went to the Finals there for a reason. We’re going to have to be defensively sound and disciplined for sure,” Gulutzan said.

While All-Star center Jamie Benn will miss a sixth straight game on Sunday due to a knee issue, the news appears a bit more favorable when it comes to rookie defenseman Philip Larsen, who took a puck to the face in the final period of Friday’s win over the Wild.

“I would say he’s probable for tomorrow,” Gulutzan said. “He’s just going to have a little bike ride today here and see where he’s at.”




1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 57 31 17 9 138 133 71
4 LAK 54 33 18 3 151 128 69
5 COL 58 29 25 4 155 160 62
6 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
7 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
8 NSH 55 25 21 9 142 148 59
9 ARI 54 25 23 6 143 164 56
10 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
11 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
12 CGY 54 25 26 3 144 160 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49


J. Benn 55 28 34 16 62
T. Seguin 55 28 32 11 60
J. Klingberg 55 10 36 14 46
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 55 16 24 -2 40
A. Goligoski 55 4 20 16 24
C. Eakin 55 10 13 0 23
M. Janmark 55 10 10 14 20
J. Demers 48 7 12 16 19
V. Nichushkin 52 6 13 7 19
A. Niemi 20 10 5 .908 2.52
K. Lehtonen 15 5 0 .912 2.79 is the official Web site of DSE Hockey Club, L.P.  The Stars name and logos are registered trademarks of the NHL and the Stars. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 DSE Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

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