Despite Slide, Stars Still Upbeat About Playoff Race

Friday, 03.21.2014 / 5:48 PM CT / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
Share with your Friends

Despite Slide, Stars Still Upbeat About Playoff Race

A week ago the Dallas Stars had a two point lead over the Phoenix Coyotes for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but a rough road trip that saw them lose three games in regulation has now left them four points back in the race for that final spot. But the Stars say it is no time to panic.

There are ups and downs over the course of the season, and there is still plenty of hockey left in this one.

“There shouldn’t be a whole lot of panic,” said Stars forward Shawn Horcoff. “We were going at a pretty good clip, but you are not going to go into the playoffs 20-6-0. You could, but that’s unlikely. There are going to be dips over the last 25 games. We’ve had ours, hopefully. If you look at Phoenix, they’re clipping pretty good and they really haven’t had one yet. You can’t really expect, but you’ve got to hope the law of averages works out and it happens to them, so if we play well we can get those [points] back.”

The Stars are down four points, but they still have a game in hand on the Coyotes and they play at Phoenix in the final game of the season for both teams. All things being even the rest of the way, the Stars still feel they are in control of their destiny.

“If you look at it now, if we win our game in hand and we beat them head-to-head, we’re in. That’s going to be our focus going forward,” said Horcoff.

But first things first, and that means the Stars need to end their current slide, which hit four games with Thursday’s 4-2 loss in Philadelphia. The Stars saw positives in that game, perhaps a sign that things are about to turn around. The hope is that turn around will come Saturday, when they take on the Ottawa Senators at American Airlines Center.

“We win tomorrow and we’re right back there,” said Horcoff. “Then it’s our turn to put some pressure on Phoenix.”

Players and coaches usually talk about taking it one game at a time, but Stars coach Lindy Ruff admitted he has taken the long-term look at what the Stars have to do over their final 13 games. He thinks they have to play .700 hockey, which would mean winning 9 of 13 games for 18 points out of a possible 26 points to give themselves a chance.

“I do a lot of mental crunching, especially after last night and after this road trip,” said Ruff. “You look at the last game against Phoenix, if we win, it depends on where they go and where we go but this could come down to the last game of the year, and we own the tiebreaker. They are not going to win all their games so, for us, I think winning seven out of ten is a good number.”

Not an easy task, but no one expected it to be easy.

“This is the playoffs, it is supposed to be hard to get into,” said Horcoff. “If you are the sixth, seventh or eighth team, you are facing adversity going in. There’s no easy ride.”

Practice notes: Horcoff practices, could play Saturday

*Forward Shawn Horcoff, who has missed the last four games with a broken pinkie finger, is expected to be in the lineup Saturday vs. Ottawa. Horcoff went through a full practice Friday and said he was ready to play. Stars coach Lindy Ruff sounded as if he thought Horcoff would be available.

“I think there’s a chance. He skated hard while we were gone. I think there is an opportunity for him to get back in,” Ruff said.

The Stars coach said the return of the veteran forward should bring a boost to the lineup.

“He’s a veteran guy who has been through these situations,” said Ruff. “He’s been an important piece in parts of our game and with him out, at times, some of our penalty killing has been hurt by it.”

*Forward Alex Chiasson was on the ice for the start of Friday’s practice, but left early.

“He was hurting. I just asked him and he said he didn’t feel good,” Ruff said. “I told him to get off, get treatment because we couldn’t take a chance of it getting any worse in practice.”

*Forward Erik Cole did not practice. Ruff said it was a maintenance day.

“He was a little banged up from last night, hopefully he’ll be OK for tomorrow,” Ruff said.

Friday’s practice lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinAlex Chiasson
Ray WhitneyCody EakinColton Sceviour
Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerRyan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff
Chris MuellerValeri Nichushkin

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley
Jordie BennBrenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton/Aaron RomeSergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen
Tim Thomas

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.




1 CHI 57 36 17 4 158 130 76
2 DAL 54 34 15 5 174 145 73
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 52 32 17 3 144 119 67
5 SJS 52 28 20 4 149 138 60
6 ANA 52 26 19 7 117 122 59
7 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
8 COL 56 27 25 4 149 155 58
9 MIN 53 23 20 10 130 130 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 ARI 53 24 23 6 139 163 54
12 CGY 52 24 25 3 138 151 51
13 WPG 53 24 26 3 137 151 51
14 EDM 55 21 29 5 133 166 47


J. Benn 54 28 33 16 61
T. Seguin 54 28 30 11 58
J. Klingberg 54 9 35 15 44
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 54 16 24 -1 40
A. Goligoski 54 4 20 17 24
C. Eakin 54 10 13 1 23
M. Janmark 54 10 10 13 20
J. Demers 48 7 12 16 19
V. Nichushkin 51 6 13 7 19
A. Niemi 20 10 5 .908 2.52
K. Lehtonen 14 5 0 .909 2.82 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.

Corporate Partnerships | Contact UsPrivacy Policy | AdChoices | Job Opportunities | Terms of Use | Site Map | Find us on Google+