Dallas Stars Training Camp: Adjusting to the system

After only two pre-season games and one iteration of all the training camp attendees suiting up, we don't have all the information we'd like about this thing. We've seen the pace wax and wane in both games, and we've seen special teams play a very large role in determining the outcomes. The goaltending has been generally good, and the power play has produced a tally in both contests.

It's the 5 on 5 play that has to be a concern to coach Crawford at this point. That may improve with time when the roster gets shaved down to the NHL only guys, or when the refs pocket the whistles, but the Dallas skipper offers some thoughts on installing his system and we'll take a look at those here.

St Louis is the problem at hand tonight, fresh off a 6 goal performance in their pre-season opener. Couple that with their prospects shiny showing in Traverse City and you can see that St. Louis is a team on the rise, not to be taken lightly.

After the jump, tonight's lineup, practice lines from yesterday, coach Crawford's comments, a new Stars on-air personality? And more...

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Stars News and Notes:

 

Coach Crawford wants guys to absorb his system in time for the regular season, doing it "instinctively"...

The new Stars coach knows he has a short time to implement his system before the Oct. 3 season opener, and he feels that a base has to be in place before he goes into his first season.

"We're reinforcing it all the time in the practices, and we'll reinforce it in the exhibition games," said Crawford, whose team lost, 3-1, at Colorado on Thursday night in the second of eight preseason games.

"The next step after you understand it is to get comfortable with it. And the final step is when we play that first regular-season game they are playing it instinctively.

"We are well along the way."

6 more pre-season games will help, but to me, the players looked tentative about (the system) when the momentum swung against them on Wednesday night.

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They've been talking face-offs this week in Frisco, something we all desperately wanted addressed last year...

Richards is healthy, so that should also help. But he's a career 48 percent faceoff winner, and he has to get better. Same with Mike Ribeiro, who won only 45.5 percent of his draws last season and has a career 45.3 winning percentage.

"I've always started slow and gotten better, but I have to be better right off the start," Ribeiro said.

Veteran center Mike Modano typically takes the most faceoffs for the Stars and has actually gotten better as he's gotten older. Modano was the saving grace for the Stars at 52.5 percent last season.

This goes hand in hand with the poor special teams play last year, and segues into what they want to do this year. In adjusting to the new system, they want to be a skill team, a fast team, a possession team...it all starts with the face-offs, and the centers are all the same as last year. Color me skeptical.

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Mike Heika speculates on the lines/lineup for Saturday night in St. Louis:

The Stars look to be using this lineup tonight in St. Louis:

J. Neal-Richards-Eriksson
Ott-Wandell-Benn
Barch-Peters-Sawada
Sutherby-Petersen-Lindgren

Skrastins-Fortunas
Fistric-Larsen
Woywitka-Stafford

Turco
Krahn

Extras: Korostin, Jancevski

Time to see the Wrath of Krahn in action. Hopefully that Richards line can find some of the same magic they had on Wednesday. Wandell and Benn are a pair to watch as well. Modano played in the first pre-season game but apparently will sit out his second consecutive contest.

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Meanwhile on the injury front, a name pops up that makes me deeply, deeply uneasy:

First, Jere Lehtinen skated on his own. Coach Marc Crawford said the plan is for Lehtinen to skate every other day for the next few days and then he’ll be re-evaluated. The hope is to get Lehtinen in a few preseason games and that he will be ready to go for the beginning of the season. Time will tell.

Mike Ribeiro did not practice today due to some soreness in his hand and groin. Crawford said the decision was made to give him a day off the ice. Ribeiro said he expected to be on the ice tomorrow.

Ribeiro doesn't appear to be a major concern, but think of how early it is. I don't especially like to hear stuff like this as early as the third pre-season game.

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I ran across something in my searches this evening: "Tori Holt" (no, not that one) will apparently be doing some Stars related broadasting this season.


Tori Holt, who has been the voice of the Colorado Eagles since their inception in 2003, is leaving the Central Hockey League.

Holt is moving on to the National Hockey League, where he will serve as a pre- and post-game show host with the Dallas Stars.

"It's a good opportunity more than anything," said Holt, a Minnesota native. "It's pretty ironic in a way that I grew up a Minnesota North Stars fan until they moved to Dallas in 1993. Now I'm going out to cover the Dallas Stars - a team I didn't like very much there for a while, but I'm very excited about this opportunity."

Who? What? Huh? These are questions we're asking as well. We'll see if we can get something official today or Monday, but my guess is that this guy will be working the radio pre and post shows on 1310 The Ticket.

[Update by Brandon Bibb at 7:39 am 9-19]: Bob Sturm did confirm the following via Twitter to one of my Twitter buds, PatrickIn323:

@PatrickIn323 as soon as I find something out, I will tell you. But, I am doing home post game shows with Dan. I know that much.

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We wondered whether Camp Canada helped Brenden to prepare ahead of schedule (mentally) for the season, but apparently Thursday night's game at Colorado was even better:

Although he skated with Team Canada in August in preparation for the Vancouver Olympics in February, Morrow said that playing a game in a Stars’ uniform was good for his recovery.

"I think that was really my first test of physical play. At Team Canada camp, there really wasn’t a lot of checking. It was more stick-checking and battles in the corners. But it just felt good to get out and get bumped and get a real game under my belt and start to feel some confidence again."

I know we were all disappointed with the apparent effort (or lack thereof) against Colorado the other night, but really we ought to be celebrating that our Captain is indeed back, and scoring goals immediately. If he has cleared the mental hurdles for the most part, then I think there is little to fear with his knee.

 

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