The Dallas Stars enjoyed a day of media appearances, but mostly rest in the city Tuesday. Discounting the holiday break it was the first extra day the team has had between game since December 8th-9th, and the last one they'll get until the 28th and 29th of this month after 11 games in the next 20 games.
It was a good day to rest their bodies after multiple waves of illness swept through the locker room in weeks past. It was also a good day to try and forget that 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders Monday night.
Oh right. The 7-3 loss to the Islanders. Their third straight loss making the streak the first of its kind this season, during which they saw 18 pucks enter their net on 98 shots against.
So practice was understandably arduous Wednesday, and players knew why.
"When you have a practice like that," Vern Fiddler told the Dallas Morning News, "it refreshes your memory that you have to work to use your skill. That's what it starts with. It starts with working, and everything else will take care of itself."
On the morning of January 2nd in one of these very game previews I wrote the following, after the Stars had dispatched the Kings a second time- "Dealing with adversity turned out to be doable. With seven of their next eight against Eastern Conference opponents, it's dealing with success that could prove their undoing if focus is not maintained."
Three games later there's no excuse for anything but their absolute focus as they try to avoid a season worst four-game losing streak. They managed three such streaks (four games, four games, and five games to end things) last season.
As Erin wrote yesterday, there will be a shakeup in the lines as Ruff looks for a more well-rounded effort from his club defensively.
Lines at practice were these:
So Cody Eakin gets a chance to stretch away from Garbutt and Roussel, but as Erin wrote yesterday it's a line with three guys who like to have the puck on their sticks and shoot.
New Jersey, meanwhile, enters on their own three-game losing streak after dropping a 3-2 OT decision to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. By all accounts the Devils had enough chances early to put the game away (as did the Stars against Montreal, against Detroit...) but could not and wound up needing a late shorthanded tally from Michael Ryder to get beyond regulation.
(Don't worry- Ryder wasn't killing a penalty. That would be crazy. It was a pulled goaltender extra-attacker situation).
Whether you like Corsi or Fenwick measurements of possession, the Devils will impress you. They have the league's third best Corsi-for percentage (5on5, score close) and the sixth best Fenwick (5on5, score close). So they'll possess the puck on you and make you chase, which is exactly what the Stars want to avoid.
It hasn't translated to goal scoring as well as you'd think, however, with the Devils 26th in the NHL at 2.34 tallies per game. Their 4th ranked penalty kill helps keep totals against low, and they sit 9th in the league allowing only 2.43 per.
Bright spots have included old friends of ours- Jaromir Jagr and Michael Ryder, who lead the team with 13 and 14 goals respectively.
Their lineup, or something close:
Cory Schneider is slated to start in net. He has sparkling numbers with a .914 save percentage and a 2.13 GAA, but has struggled to find the win column in posting a 5-9-5 record as the team in front of him looks for the back of the opponent's net.
It's a 6:00pm puck drop tonight on Fox Sports Southwest.
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