Stars Hit the Road, Look to Make Strong Push Before Break

Friday, 01.31.2014 / 3:23 PM / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski

After picking up seven of a possible 10 points on their five-game homestand, the Dallas Stars now hit the road for their final trip prior to the Olympic break.

“It’s going to be a huge trip,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. “They are three really good teams and they are all ahead of us. We have to beat them if we want to get up there (in the standings).”

The Stars play at Anaheim (Saturday), Phoenix (Tuesday) and San Jose (Wednesday). They then return home for their final game before the break, taking on Phoenix at American Airlines Center.

The Stars are looking to make a good run up to the break to put them in a better position as far as the playoff race. There will be just 24 games left in the season after the break, so they want to gain ground in the race.

“We’ve got our final push before the break and we just want to focus on what’s ahead of us.” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We’ve got to play some good teams and we’re going into their buildings. It’s not going to be easy, and then we come home for one. We’ll take it one game at a time, but if we can play .750 hockey (win three of four), we’ll get back up in the standings.”

First up will be Anaheim, which has the best record in the league at 40-11-5 and is an impressive 22-2-2 at home. The Stars and Ducks have played twice already with each team winning at home by a 6-3 score.

“We got off to a great start in Anaheim and let it slip away. It was a tight game here that we blew open late,” said Ruff. “They’ve got excellent speed, they’ve got a backend that joins. It’s a four man attack and their big boys up front (Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry) are having a heck of a year.”

The two games against Phoenix will be huge. The Stars sit 10th in the West, six points out of a playoff spot after Thursday’s games. The Coyotes are ninth, three points ahead of the Stars. Before they can get to eighth, the Stars have to get past Phoenix in the standings.

“Every game is big, but especially now it keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said Lehtonen. “We’ve been kind of staying at the same spot for a while now, so it’s time for us to make a move and start winning games.”

Dads’ trip

Fathers of several of the players and some of the team’s staff will join the Stars for the Phoenix and San Jose legs of the upcoming road trip.

“It’s a great bonding time,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “It’s an appreciation time for the fathers, who put the time in with their sons as they grew up and the long hours they put in with them. It’s a chance for the sons to show their dads off a little bit. It gives the dads a great feeling of what their sons are going through, getting up the next day from traveling the night before, practice and play that next day and that pressure they are under. It’s a chance to thank the dads for the time they put in, and a chance to see the life their sons live now.”

Stars center Shawn Horcoff experienced some dads’ trips when he was with the Edmonton Oilers, and said his dad is a big fan.

“When I told him we had one he was ecstatic. He loves these things,” Horcoff said. “When I was in Edmonton we had a dads’ trip and a moms’ trip, too. It’s kind of nice for them to go through and experience what we live day to day. They wanted to see their sons in the NHL and then to get to see what goes on a little more closely, it’s a big deal for them.”

Nineteen players will have fathers on the trip. The dads arrive in Phoenix on Sunday and the first event will be a Super Bowl watching party that evening.

Practice update

The Stars held an optional practice Friday morning in Frisco. There were just a few players on the ice. Forwards Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Chiasson and Dustin Jeffrey, defenseman Kevin Connauton and goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Dan Ellis took part in the skate.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 4 3 1 1 4
S. Horcoff 4 0 4 4 4
C. Sceviour 4 1 2 3 3
C. Eakin 4 1 2 0 3
A. Roussel 4 0 3 2 3
R. Garbutt 4 2 0 2 2
V. Fiddler 4 1 1 0 2
A. Goligoski 4 1 1 4 2
A. Chiasson 4 1 1 -4 2
T. Seguin 4 1 1 3 2
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 2 2 0 .921 2.28
 
 
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