Razor With an Edge: Lindy Ruff Won't Win the Jack Adams

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 11:29 AM CT / Razor With An Edge
By Daryl "Razor" Reaugh
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Razor With an Edge: Lindy Ruff Won\'t Win the Jack Adams

Lindy Ruff, in his first season behind the Dallas Stars bench, has produced one of the most impactful coaching performances of the 2013-14 campaign, yet, he won't be taking home a second Jack Adams. That Coach of the Year award is going to go to Patrick Roy or Mike Babcock (both of whom would be very deserving), but if I were voting, Ruff would get my check mark. (Hey wait, what am I saying, we broadcasters do get the ballot for this)

Along with countless little adjustments, periodic reracking of the team when it hit a ditch, and mature/tireless handling of the media, he (along with his staff of James Patrick, Curt Fraser, Mike Valley and Kelly Forbes) should get major appreciation for these five things:

1. Team Identity
2. Mental Toughness Building
3. The Rich Peverley Incident
4. Style of Play
5. Guiding the Stars back into the Playoffs

Team Identity

When Ruff was hired in the summer the first thing he looked to repair and improve was the Stars suicidal tendency to take volumes of cynical minor penalties. At the same time he wanted them playing with the puck more which would equate to more power play opportunities. Ruff demanded an attitude adjustment. Eighty-two games later only the Kings have enjoyed more power play time (Stars ranked 26th in that category at the end of the last 82-game schedule two seasons ago) and the time spent killing penalties has dropped from sixth most to sixth least. Lindy should hang a 'Mission Accomplished' banner at AAC.

No doubt personnel played a role in the turnaround too but so did his unwavering approach and the peer to peer accountability he created.

The identity of this team a year ago? There wasn't one.

The identity of the team today? Fast. Disciplined. Puck Possession. Every line playing the same way. Defensemen involved in the attack. Forwards involved in the defense. Play to win.

Mental Hardening

A couple of examples:

Lindy took an approach with workhorse netminder Kari Lehtonen that saw him play more second games of back to backs and he challenged him to be a better puck handler outside of his net.

With regards to Seguin and Benn, instead of constantly trying to get them away from opposing coaches matching their top pair on defense and/or their top center vs the young studs, he told them to fight through those challenges and overcome. (They kinda did)

And, at times, the team practiced when it would have been easier to rest. Down the stretch they've been a dynamite third period club, that's not a coincidence.

Peverley Heart Malfunction

Watching him handle that horrifying event; the immediate leadership, the calmness, and the coaching done in its aftermath (That 3-2 OT victory in St. Louis the next night is right up there with the best I've ever witnessed) was what you get when you hire a good man with a lot of experience leading young men.

Style

Very early on I started getting a sense that 'hockey people' were whisper cheering for the Stars to be a success, and a playoff team. The reason? The game needs more teams playing Lindy Ruff's style of stick and puck. John Wooden once said "If you're not making mistakes you're not doing anything" and Lindy seems to harbor a similar philosophy. He encourages individuals to make plays while at the same time understanding they are going to error occasionally. He freed them up mentally and put them on the attack but with responsibility as well.

There is nothing more soul crushing to me than playing the game of hockey 'not to lose'. This Stars style of play is intoxicating, fans love it, and - and this is kinda big - it wins.

Playoff Bound

In years past - five of them to be exact - Stars teams buckled like IKEA lawn furniture late in the regular season in the race to get enough points to qualify for post season action. This year they compiled one of the best home records post-Olympic Games and they produced a winning five-game road trip when it mattered most. It wasn't by chance, it was guidance and preparation, and a confident belief that filtered from behind the bench that they would win and get in.

Well done Lindy.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 6 4 6 5 10
J. Spezza 6 4 5 1 9
P. Eaves 6 2 3 3 5
P. Sharp 6 3 1 0 4
C. Eakin 6 0 4 1 4
A. Goligoski 6 2 1 -4 3
J. Klingberg 6 1 2 -3 3
A. Hemsky 6 1 2 1 3
J. Demers 6 0 3 5 3
M. Janmark 5 0 3 1 3
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 3 1 0 .911 2.27
A. Niemi 1 1 1 .870 3.36
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