Stars look forward to run of games at home
NOV 20, 2013 10:31a ET
But as the Stars reach the quarter-pole on the season, they are currently just 3-2-2 at the AAC and with Ruff's club having six of their next nine, a run dating to mid-December, on home ice, there's no time like the present to start racking up points at home as well.
"(We need to) just try to play consistent hockey. We played a better than average game the last time (we were at home)," Ruff said. "We played a couple of mistakes that cost us against Chicago. Our energy was good, we got the lead. We made a couple of mistakes at the end of the second period that made it tough for us to win the game."
That last home loss the veteran bench man speaks of is a 5-2 loss to the reigning NHL Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 9. However, that final score line is more than a bit deceiving. For most of two periods, the Stars went toe-to-toe with the current league titleholder as the two traded punches like a couple of prize fighters.
But when Chicago went on the power play for the first time in the second period and converted, that one mistake gave the visitors the eventual game-winner. The Hawks then added a pair in the third, including an empty netter late after the Stars had pulled No. 1 goaltender Kari Lehtonen for an extra attacker to make it a three-goal game in the end.
However, the fact Dallas had so many positives it could take away from what truly was a measuring stick game not to use a tired cliché, definitely gave them some added confidence as they headed out on the road last week for their only trek of the regular season through western Canada.
After beating Edmonton 1-0 in the trip opener last Wednesday, the Stars followed up that effort by blitzing Calgary, 7-3, last Thursday in the Saddledome to sweep the back-to-back. Their 2-1 win at Vancouver was a bit more hard-fought, a term Ruff used to characterize the victory in his postgame remarks to the media, but the Stars had swept their second straight three-game road trip, giving them cause for considerable optimism heading into Thursday's visit from ex-Star Brad Richards and the New York Rangers.
At least that's how Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski sees it.
"It's real important. Probably the next step is establishing ourselves at home. We've done a good job on the road. It's good to be at home and we've got to make sure we take advantage of it," Goligoski said.
Of course, one obvious area of concern is the Stars' lack of results on the power play at home. For the season, Dallas is 0-for-24 and has the NHL's worst home power play. In fact, the Stars, along with Philadelphia (8.9 percent) and Carolina (9.8 percent) are one just two clubs who are converting on the power play in single-digits at this time.
But as bad as Dallas' PP has been at the AAC, their penalty kill has been stellar. Overall, the Stars have the No. 17 kill in the league, which puts them about mid table. But at home, the Stars kill off opposing power plays 90.5 percent of the time, which is fourth best in the NHL.
Dallas also figures to get injured veteran Ray Whitney back at some point during this run of games at home. That could come as soon as Thursday but after practice on Tuesday, Ruff sounded pretty mum on that possibility.
Stars fans also could get their first look at forward Dustin Jeffrey, a former Penguin who was claimed off waivers on Sunday. Jeffrey had been struggling to find consistent ice time in Pittsburgh but had appeared in 100 games for the Pens over the past few seasons.
After hosting the Rangers, Dallas will travel to St. Louis to face former head coach Ken Hitchcock and ex-captain Brenden Morrow on Tuesday in their final game before the Thanksgiving holiday. The Stars will then host the Blackhawks for a second time in November on Friday to close out their November schedule.
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