Stargazing: Stars Look to Regain Form against Stiff Competition

Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars  and Texas Stars news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

The upcoming trio of games is starting to look more daunting with each day the Stars have off following their loss to the Coyotes in Glendale. Pardon my gloomy outlook on the pending contests this week, both home and road, and please consider the following before you pass any judgment my way:

The Red Wings have won six of their last seven games. They've scored nine goals, three goals, and seven goals respectively in their last three outings. They're as well rested as the Stars are with three days off, but without the travel, and Henrik Zetterberg is the NHL's top "Star of the Week." Then take the Columbus Blue Jackets, winners of four of their last five games who will be waiting in Dallas for the Stars to return whilst they battle the Wings on Wednesday. If two Western Conference teams rolling along quite nicely isn't enough trouble, there's always the New Jersey Devils who come to the American Airlines Center on Saturday night. Apparently they're the NHL's best road team.

So there we have it. A trio of troublesome tribulations for Dallas this week, and all while they're trying to figure out how to score more than two goals a game as they've been wont to do lately.

Alas, the players must take things one game at a time, and so to must we, I suppose. This is quite an opportunity for the Stars coming up this week and lest we forget, they took three of four games from the Red Wings last season...

After the jump, Dallas shuffles the lines, The Texas Stars are rolling, and Marty Turco's work load increases...

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Mike Heika brings you an update from the road on Monday practice:

Jere Lehtinen (groin) was back on the ice today and will probably be ready to play Wednesday at Detroit.

Fabian Brunnstrom (shoulder) skated a lot, but isn't allowed contact and still is struggling to get a full swing on his shot. Brian Sutherby (groin) didn't skate. Lines were juggled and Marc Crawford had Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow on separate lines for the first time this year.

It's only Monday, and there is a full practice Tuesday in Detroit (plus a morning skate on Wednesday), so we'll see if he sticks with these lines:

Neal-Richards-Eriksson
Morrow-Modano-Benn
Ott-Ribeiro-Lehtinen
Barch-Wandell-Petersen

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Marty Turco is playing well, and Marc Crawford is well aware:

"It's tough to build momentum," goalie Marty Turco said after a 3-2 loss to Phoenix on Saturday that followed a huge 3-2 win against San Jose a few nights earlier. "Things seem to happen a lot easier when you get on a roll. You don't feel like you're grinding it out. Some guys can get on a roll and carry a team, but that hasn't been the case so far."

The one player who can help the Stars get on a roll is Turco. The veteran goalie has produced impressive runs in his career and appears to be in the middle of a pretty good stretch. Turco is 5-1-1 in his last seven games with a 2.10 goals against-average and .928 save percentage. So how can the Stars take advantage of that?

"Play him," coach Marc Crawford said. "I mean, that's pretty much what we need to do."

While Crawford and his coaches planned to space out Turco's games in order to make sure he would avoid a slow start and not wear out by the end of the season, they might be ready to adjust.

I might take a little issue with the premise that Turco is "the one" player that can help get the Stars on a roll. Sure, your goaltender is key to any kind of roll on which you might get, but it certainly hasn't been his fault that they can't string together two "good" games. Especially given the well documented GFA the team has in their last five or six games. He can't score goals...though, I think he'd really like to.

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Dallasstars.com takes a look at the Stars depth at forward and the musical chairs going on there:

The fact that Modano, Lehtinen and Ott served as the third line for a few games, and with solid, dependable players such as Brian Sutherby, Fabian Brunnstrom, Toby Petersen and Krys Barch on the bubble battling for spots in the lineup any given night, depending on the injury list, is further evidence of the Stars’ impressive depth.

"For sure, it’s healthy competition," said Sutherby, who was scheduled to be a healthy scratch Thursday until Lehtinen’s tweaked groin forced him to sit out the last two games. "It’s been like that for my entire career, being anywhere from 8-12th forward, or 13th, it’s always something that’s a motivating factor to try and stay in the lineup and sometimes that’s the way it goes. You’re in, you’re out. I don’t think anyone deserves to be out of the lineup right now. That’s sort of tough, but you just got to roll with it."

Barch, who missed three games with a back problem last week, bluntly refuted the notion that having extra competition amongst themselves for those last roster slots further motivates them to dig in harder.

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The Texas Stars are now the AHL's best team....

SAN ANTONIO — The Texas Stars defeated the San Antonio Rampage 2-0 on Sunday at the AT&T Center.

Stars goalie Brent Krahn (8-1-0-0) stopped a season-high 44 shots for his second consecutive shutout and his eighth straight win. Warren Peters scored with 1 minute, 19 seconds left in the second period and Sergei Korostin added an empty-net goal as Texas remained unbeaten in regulation in the last 11 games (8-0-2-1). Texas leads the AHL with 28 points.

The Stars (12-2-2-2) will travel to Rockford, Ill., for a game Wednesday against the Ice Hogs.

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Andrew's Stars Page notes that Jamie Benn is at least in the running for the NHL's top rookie:

Here are THN’s ranking of the top 10 Calder candidates at this point of the season.

1. D Tyler Myers, Buffalo
2. F Ryan O’Reilly, Colorado
3. D Michael Del Zotto, NY Rangers
4. F John Tavares, NY Islanders
5. F James van Riemsdyk, Philadephia
6. D Davis Drewiske, Los Angeles
7. D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay

8. F Jamie Benn, Dallas

9. G Semyon Varlamov, Washington

10. D Jason Demers, San Jose

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The Buffalo News mentions the potential for a move involving Brunnstrom:

If he plays his cards right, Stars rookie GM Joe Nieuwendyk could set up a mini-bidding war for second-year winger Fabian Brunnstrom. Several GMs were poking for the asking price last week during meetings in Toronto.

Brunnstrom, who had 17 goals and 29 points in 55 games as a rookie, appears to be caught up in a numbers crunch. He hasn't been able to crack the top two lines and had just one goal and seven points going into the weekend.

Dallas is stocked with good young forwards with three of its top six scorers 24 or younger (James Neal, Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn). Brunnstrom, 24, has intriguing size (6-2, 215) and makes only $875,000. The Stars are looking for defensemen, preferably young and cheap.

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ESPN thinks you might want to take a look at Mike Modano for your fantasy team, if you are so inclined...

Mike Modano, C, Stars (3.7): No, I'm not getting all nostalgic for no reason. Modano is actually in a very good position to contribute for the Dallas Stars. He has replaced Jamie Benn as the winger for the Mike Ribeiro-Brenden Morrow line. Modano has managed four points in his past two games since winning the assignment and he fired nine shots on goal. He even played the fourth forward on the first power-play unit with Loui Eriksson, James Neal and Brad Richards.

 

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