The Dallas Stars, losers of five of their first seven games (2-4-1) have played the more games than anyone else in the Western Conference - And for that they're finally rewarded their first two-day break, and more importantly two days of practice.
They've not practiced much with Jamie Benn in the lineup. They've not practiced much with Aaron Rome at 100%. They've not had Joe Nieuwendyk's full vision of the roster on the ice at the same time thanks to absences by Benn, Rome, Jagr, Whitney, Roy and Lehtonen.
They lost a day of practice because of travel home from Detroit last week. They lost valuable morning skate time yesterday because of traffic to Detroit. They've simply just not had the time away from game situations they need with all the roster turnover, including significant youth.
The Stars once again had travel issues, as fog kept them in Columbus on Monday night and they were not allowed a morning skate in Detroit. Because practice time has been tight, Gulutzan said much of the team's learning has to be done in film sessions and meetings.
"These guys are the elite. Having some meetings and making it known to them, I think you automatically get a kick from that," Gulutzan said. "Practice time and making it known are pretty much equal."
If they're pretty much equal, then having two days off before facing the Coyotes on Friday may not be of much benefit.
You'd like to think, however, that having a more complete group together for their first real consecutive quality practice days since January 17th and 18th, without Benn, will be of some use - particularly defensively, where the breakdowns (even when the opposition is being kept quiet by Kari) have been prolific.
Now some linkage...
- The three-year ownership imbroglio (Imbroglio: An extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation) in Phoenix will reportedly come to an end either today or tomorrow, reports the Sports Business Journal. Good news, Coyotes fans. [via SB Nation]
- Bad news, Coyotes fans, your attendance is once again trending toward last in the league. (The Stars, btw, despite "good" crowds" are still toward the bottom of the lists thus far as well). [KTAR]
- Glen Gulutzan says the Stars have to be content to dump the puck in on the power play. "We're forcing things. We're forcing things. We have to be content with dumping it in and grinding it out..." Read his full remarks on Mark Stepneski's blog. [Inside Edge]
- Mike Ribeiro is excelling individually this season with the Washington Capitals, collecting a goal and five assists in six games on the year, but the Caps are 1-4-1 after another blown lead last night. If you'd like to see some fans as miserable as we are at the moment, head on over to Japers Rink and read about their collapse last night. [Japers Rink]
- Speaking of misery loving company, Barry Trotz says that Shea Weber is frustrated at the Preds slow start to the year, and things don't get better as they're in the middle of a big road trip out west. [Pro Hockey Talk]
- Mike Heika says Derek Roy has skated this week by himself in Frisco, but implies he could still be doubtful for Friday against Phoenix. We should get more on that later today. [DMN]
- Video: Kari Lehtonen continues to his and several others' share of the work. [YouTube]
- Heika's pay-wall story includes a quote from GM Joe and so much more... "We battled hard tonight, and we probably deserved a better fate. I liked our effort," said Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk. "But you have to get points, and you can't get too far behind. So we'll take this break, and we'll keep pushing forward." [DMN]
- One of the few entertaining parts from last night's broadcast, apart from an always delightful 2.5 hours with Ralph and Razor in our living rooms - The Brenden Dillon fight: