The Dallas Stars continue to trade, waive, call-up and sit players as they try to place a toe-hold in the rapidly evolving Western Conference playoff race. They'll continue to tinker until they get it right, and feel they still have more combinations to try- Even though it's been two months already since training camp began.
"I still don't think I have the right guy with the Spezza-Hemsky connection," Ruff told the Dallas Morning News Wednesday. "That might be a Roussel, or maybe Eakin goes there and Eaves goes back with Seguin and Benn. But I'm going to continue to tweak things until it becomes right."
The worst home team in the league. The worst third-period team in the league. The worst team in the league when scoring first- The Dallas Stars are piling up the distinctions, and none of them are good.
Such is life when the record slips as it has. These unsavory statistical situations will continue to pile up until they can solve this crisis of confidence and string a good three or four weeks together.
Until then there's just dealing with reality. Like the fact they have that single home win this year. Or that they're now a bottom-five team in the NHL standings.
After losing what were once tie games with the Wild and Blackhawks on the weekend, combined with a 2-0 second period lead lost Tuesday against a Carolina team that would, in about half of a hockey game, eventually drop six on them, things have gone form bad to worse.
"I can tell you that if Hemsky, Spezza, Cole, guys like that, don't put the puck in the back of the net, we're not going to win games," opined Ruff, quite frankly. "I'm not going to tell you we had some good chances; we don't get paid for chances. Chances have got to go in the back of the net."
"I think we are beating ourselves mentally right now," Tyler Seguin explanined. "We have definitely dug ourselves into a hole. It would be different if we thought we were playing good hockey losing these, but I don't think anything thinks we're playing good hockey."
Unfortunately, he's right. Spot on.
Tonight it's the Arizona Coyotes- Another crack at home at an opponent who is not exactly lighting up their division or conference. It's gut check time. It's on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30pm CST.
Adjustments are the name of the game when things are not going well, and so a token number of tweaks will continue: This time it seems Patrick Eaves will draw back into the lineup while Ryan Garbutt sits for a week with an upper body injury.
On defense it's been stated that Jyrki Jokipakka will play. The guess is that either Jordie Benn or Jamie Oleksiak will sit in his stead, leaving Daley, Goligoski, Klingberg and Dillon in as the remainder.
Mike Heika observed Goligoski and Daley together in practice. If that's the case, then there will be a precipitous drop-off in games played from the first defensive pairing to the second and third. Youth is being served, and the pain must be endured before it can get any better.
Forward lines from practice:
Jamie Benn-Cody Eakin-Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel-Jason Spezza-Ales Hemsky
Curtis McKenzie-Vernon Fiddler-Patrick Eaves
Erik Cole-Shawn Horcoff-Travis Moen (Colton Sceviour)
On moving Eakin up, Ruff told media "Obviously, I was looking for something to get Jamie back on track. That early one helped, and those three guys scored all four goals."
That one that got Benn back on track was created entirely by Vern Fiddler after a partial change- But the point is taken. Stars fans hope their captain can really get going and set the tone for a bunch that need something to follow right now.
Kari Lehtonen will probably be given a chance to bounce back from what was widely considered a rough outing Tuesday night- Particularly in reference to the first and fourth goals.
From Stars PR:
Stars rookie defenseman John Klingberg posted two assists on Tuesday night for his first career multi-point game. Klingberg also registered two shots and one blocked shot in a team-high 24:26 of ice time. The Gothenburg, Sweden native has three points (0-3=3) this season, all of which have come in the last two games. Klingberg currently leads NHL rookie defensemen with an average time on ice per game of 23:35 in five games, while he paces the Stars in even strength ice time per game (21:42).
While the Hurricanes arrived at American Airlines Center with the worst road record in the league, the Coyotes have been on something of a roll away from home recently. Wins in Anaheim and Vancouver (5-0, if it weren't impressive enough just getting the two points...) punctuate a streak of four victories in their last five road games.
They've not allowed an even-strength goal on the road in well over 120 minutes.
Possible lineup, or a lineup some reported from practice:
Defenseman Brandon Gormley was injured in their last outing and will miss this one. Center Martin Hanzal could possibly sit, while David Moss (upper body) injury is also out. Left wing Rob Klinkhammer is thought to be a very good possibility to return to the lineup.
They've actually given Dubnyk a bit of run in goal (and successfully, too- Nice for a backup netminder, no?) lately but are expected to start former-Star Mike Smith this evening.
We'll see you back here for more group therapy in our game day thread/live chat at 7:30pm CST.